Herb Stone: Delivering the dreams

Published on November 18th, 2019

Since its launch in 2011, the National Hall of Fame has enshrined 81 heroes of the sport, with its induction ceremonies offering an opportunity to witness these outstanding individuals. The Class of 2019 was the ninth such occasion, with Herbert Lawrence Stone among the latest inductees.

Receiving the award for Herb, who passed away in 1955, was his great granddaughter Katherine Stone Nichol. Here was her acceptance speech:

It seems funny to be up here in the age of journalism where it’s almost a dirty word. It’s good to see that there’s two journalists who are being inducted to the Hall of Fame, so thank you very much.

Throughout every decade of Herb Stone’s life, he made an impact in the sport of sailing. Although he consorted with and held the respect of the kings of yachting, his heart and his loyalty remained with the small boat yachtsmen as their thankless supporter.

Today there are ten of us here to honor him which includes two granddaughters and six great-grandchildren. My mother, Nancy Stone, wrote a column called On the Niner Frontier for Yachting Magazine. My great-uncle, Bill Stone, wrote Cruising Guides of the Caribbean and Chesapeake. And his son, Wally Stone, would be a member of the Cruising Club of America and founder of the virtual Back Creek Yacht Club.

His granddaughters would name their first boat, Skipper, which was Herb’s nickname. My children would grow up on our J/24 and become very proficient sailors. Little did I realize at the time that I would write for Canadian Yachting as a journalist.

The first time an issue of Yachting hit the newsstands was January 1, 1907. One year later, Herb was appointed the managing editor, and for the next 44 years, he would take on the role of president, publisher, and editor, serving as the guiding spirit of the magazine, ever aware of the new developments and inevitable changes in the sport.

He also wrote a book called the ABC’s of Sailing, which was the most popular book at the time for sailors learning how to sail.

Stone became one of the 36 founding members of the Cruising Club of America and the second Commodore. He recommended that funds be set aside for the Blue Water Medal to be awarded annually for the most meritorious example of seamanship. The Herbert L. Stone Memorial Trophy continues to be awarded to the first yacht to finish the Cruising Division, now called the Finisterre Division, in the Newport Bermuda Race.

Despite great resistance, Stone entirely is responsible for the revival and healthy growth of the Newport Bermuda Race in 1923. He believed there was nothing that developed all-around seamanship and resourcefulness as much as long-distance ocean racing that kept contestants going night and day. Yachting historian John Rousmaniere called Herb Stone the father of American ocean racing.

Before television and the use of social media, Herb Stone was the voice of the yachtsman from dinghies to ocean-going vessels. Sailors waited patiently for their copy of Yachting to arrive every month, so they could sit back and dream of adventures at sea because Stone brought it to them through the magazine, contributing as few men had to the advancement of the sport that he loved.

Editor’s note: This previously said how granddaughter Katherine Stone Nichol gave the acceptance speech but the family reports that she is the great granddaughter.

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