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The Harbor Report: Looking back at the top fleets

August 30, 2012|By Len Bose
  • Newport Harbor Snowbirds in "The Flight of the Snowbirds."
Newport Harbor Snowbirds in "The Flight of the Snowbirds." (Courtesy WD Schock…)

This week I thought it would be interesting to go back some 50 years and recall who brought home the pickle dishes in the 1940-1960s.

I called Seymour Beek and Dave Ullman and asked them what were the most active fleets, names to look for and where to look.

I headed over to the Newport Harbor and Balboa yacht clubs' libraries and started my research. I focused in on what I thought was the most active fleets from that time frame and came up with Snowbird, Rhodes 33, Snipe and Star fleets.

The Snowbird was best known for the Flight of the Snowbirds, now known as the Flight of the Lasers. The first year of the race was in 1936 with 32 entries. Dick McKibben was the winner.

By the time the '50s rocked in, the entries had grown to 163 boats on the starting line. Names to look for were Ronnie Miracle, Steve Titus, Barton Beek, Janet Power, Tom Frost, Dan Thompson, Jeff Allen, Dick Deaver and Henry Sprague III.

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Joe Beek donated the Perpetual Trophy, known as the "Gold S," which was first awarded in 1949.

I looked for the trophy at the NHYC and did not find it, but I understand the other names you would find on it would be Clark King, Bob White, Bill Lawharon and Fred Schenck.

The boat was used in the 1932 Olympics and then became popular for junior sailors in our harbor. It was about 12 feet long with five feet of beam. It weighed in at 275 pounds.

The Rhodes 33 was built with the intent of sailing in and around Newport Harbor. It is 33 feet long, 6.8 at the beam and weighs in at 5,800 pounds. The CR on the sail dates back to its original name, the Coast Rhodes.

The big pickle dish is named the Lester C and the fleet competed for the Lowe and Mark Healy Perpetuals High Point series. Past champions included Connie Wurdemann aboard Midship, Harlan "Hook" Beardslee on Seebee, Bill Joyce's Crispin II, Tommy Thomas with Nimbus, Bob Collins with Josephine VI, Strat Enright in Witch, Marianne and John Pearcy with Whim, Hallett Throne in Manana, Phelps Merickel in Marlan, Bill Taylor sailed Mistress and Bud Edgar with Madness.

As I researched the fleet, one name always came to the top of the list: Beardslee sailing the No. 8 Seebee. I found this quotation in the NHYC history book, "The Rhodes class always showed up with a sizable fleet, but the race was usually for second when Hook was sailing." Other names I found in past results were Jack Hillman, George Fleitz, W.G. Durant and Tom Myers.

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