The Ways of Ched Proctor

Published on November 11th, 2020

With nearly a half-century of small-boat one-design racing and sailmaking in his wake, Ched Proctor is set in his ways, and his ways are fast. Dave Powlison report on the grizzled veteran for Sailing World:


In 1964, Ched Proctor had a serious case of the slows. He was 14 and competing in Turnabouts in Scituate, Massachusetts, just southeast of Boston. “I remember coming in to the dock and being very frustrated,” he says. There was Bill Mattern, high school teacher, part-time garage sailmaker and unofficial mentor for the junior racing crowd. Proctor asked him what he thought of his sail. Mattern studied it and quickly confirmed the young sailor’s suspicion.

Seventy-five dollars later, with a new sail in hand, Proctor headed for Quincy Bay Race Week. Though he hadn’t been that competitive in his local fleet, he mustered the courage to sign up for the championship division—and won it. With that victory came an epiphany—at least for a 14-year-old—that would determine the trajectory of his life: “I learned then that a sail with the right shape makes the boat go faster.”

Professionally, Proctor would go on to work almost 50 years with North Sails, taking him to lofts in Wisconsin, Australia, Germany and Connecticut. Competitively, he would roll up an unparalleled list of one-design North American and National titles, notching 17 major victories in the Lightning class alone, including that class’s 2018 and 2019 North American Championships. A lot of the one-design sails North Sails sells today were designed by Proctor. – Full report.

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