Leaders and Legends

Published on March 23rd, 2016

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), which has been looking after the interests of recreational boaters since its founding by Richard Schwartz in 1966, is celebrating its 50th anniversary by recognizing some of the innovators and newsmakers in the sport. Here is a sampling:

STEVE AND DORIS COLGATE: Teaching the Joy of Sailing
When 27-year-old Doris Horecker signed up for a sailing course in the 1960s, she had no idea she’d end up marrying her instructor, Steve Colgate – and joining his business, Offshore Sailing School. Colgate, an Olympic sailor, sailed in an America’s Cup campaign by the time they married in 1969, and in another the next year. Later, in the disastrous 1979 Fastnet Race that claimed 15 lives, Steve’s crew not only finished; they won their class. Full report.

DENNIS CONNER: Transformed the America’s Cup
Above all, the man who became known as “Mr. America’s Cup” wanted No Excuse To Lose – not coincidentally, the title of his third book. He sailed in 10 Cup races and won the Auld Mug four times. Conner, now 74, is credited with transforming the America’s Cup from amateur to pro; his 1980-1983 campaign was the first to replace traditional summer “gentleman” crews with full-time teams. Full report.

HARRY HORGAN: Accessibility Pioneer
In the early 1980s, young Newport, Rhode Island, sailor Harry Horgan was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. He was 22. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he got motivated. Harry had two immediate goals: walking with leg braces, and skiing. He struggled with walking but, using adaptive equipment, easily mastered skiing. “It was the same exhilaration I felt when I was able-bodied,” he said. Then he had an idea: Why not do this with sailing? In 1986, he started a summer sports program and a nonprofit organization in Newport called Shake-A-Leg. Its objective: to help others overcome devastating injuries, largely through sailing. Full report.

FREDERICK E. “TED” HOOD: Sailmaker & Designer
Ted Hood (1927-2013) built his first small boat at age seven, and went on to become a sailmaker, boatbuilder, yacht designer, innovator, and superlative sailor. In 1955, he opened Hood Sailmakers in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and grew it from a one-man show into a worldwide industry leader, the first sailmaker to weave his own Dacron cloth. A man of few words and a constant tinkerer, Hood also established wellrespected businesses in mast construction and yacht design, and is credited with innovations such as the grooved headstay and roller reefing. Full report.

HOBIE ALTER: Designed The Hobie Cat
Hobie Alter (1933-2014) had a goal: He never wanted to wear hard-soled shoes or work east of the Pacific Coast Highway. So he started the very first California surf shop, carving surfboards out of balsa. To avoid wasting two-thirds of the wood on shaping, he pioneered the switch to polyurethane foam, which quickly became the new standard in surfboard construction. After that success, he turned his attention to another water-based passion, sailing, and in 1968 created the iconic Hobie Cat. Full report.

BoatU.S. profiles 27 individuals in the April/May magazine. For the complete list… click here.

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