My Folkboat was a Movie Star

Published on November 28th, 2018

There is no sailing themed film on any ‘best sports movie list‘, but the 1980 golf comedy Caddyshack did provide classic moments for boaters. Do you remember the scene when Ted Knight’s character Judge Elihu Smails was christening his sailboat? Southwinds Magazine Editor Steve Morrell shares the background on that boat.

The Nordic Folkboat has been active since the 1940s but mine was probably the most “infamous” of them all – in a dubious sort of way. Back in 1979, I bought the carvel-planked wood Folkboat in Palm Beach, FL. It was named Trifid, which I kept, and it was allegedly one of several boats built by a doctor in the area.


I lived and cruised east Florida on it and spent three months on it in the Bahamas. It was a great boat – and quick – and though it had limited accommodations, it was enough for me and my girlfriend to live on. But the story really begins when I sold the boat later that year to the production company that produced Caddyshack.

Trifd was Ted Knight’s boat in the movie and the boat that when it was christened with a bottle of champagne, the bowsprit broke off. Then Rodney Dangerfield’s big powerboat dropped an anchor through the forward hatch, causing water to spouted up out of the hatch like it was about to sink.

Since the boat had no bowsprit, it was made of balsa wood and pre-broken and glued back together in a boatyard in Fort Lauderdale to look like it was broken for the movie scene. The forward hatch was also faked to break easily, and the water coming out was from a fire hose that was down below. The railing around the cockpit was also added for the scene.

I tried to locate the boat years later, putting out a call in Southwinds Magazine around 2003, and found out its last known location (sometime in the 1980s) was that it was sitting in the water, neglected and run down, behind a home in Fort Lauderdale owned by one of the production company employees. I don’t what happened to it after that.

It was a beauty and a lot of fun. Had an outboard, but we sailed into almost every anchorage – something smaller boats are easily able to do. In fact, my first of two trips to the Bahamas, we had no motor. I’ve seen the boat in the movie many, many times. Good times!


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