Saturday, November 16, 2019

The 1957 Moth Nationals

I came across this old announcement from the 1957 Moth Class Nationals while sorting through a box of stuff.  The four day event (two days of racing) was held, just after Labor Day, at the Margate City YC in New Jersey.  To put this in perspective, those born that year are now eligible for social  security:

Sadly, the MCYC no longer exists.  The club petered out about twenty years ago when membership dropped below the level needed to pay the real estate taxes and clubhouse upkeep.  No doubt the site is now either a marina or condominiums.

Racing included separate Championships for the Open, Junior and Women competitors.  One wonders what constituted "proper" identification for the Saturday evening party?  Interestingly, the street address of the club is not provided.  Most of the competitors during this period of the IMCA were local and already knew.


Burt Dowler, the IMCA president from 1942 until 1958, was part of the protest committee.  This event would be one of Mr. Dowler's final acts as Moth Class President.  His health declined and he passed away in October of 1958.  The remaining class officers struggled with the leadership vacuum caused by his death.  One of Burt Dowler's pet projects was the annual Moth Class yearbook which he started in 1950, called Moth Doings.  There is a gap of two years (1958 and 1959) before the class collected itself and finally resumed publication of the yearbook in 1960.  The final issue of Moth Doings was published in 1965 just before the IMCA reorganized itself as a truly international body in which member nations were parts of rather than an organization controlled by just one member nation.

Getting back to the regatta, the winner of the Open division was a young Blair Fletcher sailing a boat of his own design called Dixie Peach.  Blair would go on to become one of the most dominant builders of Moth Boats in the 1960s.  Randall Swan was second and Newt Wattis was third.  In the Junior division, Peter Tuffs won followed by Ricky Shepperd and Danny Mullray.  Didi Adshead prevailed in the Women's division over Paula Holmes and Marianne Wark.  The team award went to the Charleston Moth Fleet over Stone Harbor, Margate and Harbor Sailing. 

7 comments:

  1. I started racing Moths the following year. Crewed for my dad in his Comet that year.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks to Mr. Google I found what appears to be a defunct entry for Margate City Yacht Club on a marina guide website, and surprisingly a listing for Margate City Yacht Club on a 2017 list of historic buildings. Both listed the address as 412 N. Vendome Avenue - although both misspelled Vendome (in two different ways!)

    The property at that address today is a 4,500 sq. ft. single family home built in 1989 worth about $2 million.

    https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/412-N-Vendome-Ave-Margate-City-NJ-08402/37827270_zpid/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tillerman: the Vendome Ave. address sounds correct to my mind's eye, but the yacht club yard was much larger than the street address. I suspect that the club's ground footprint was subdivided into at least three house lots. So take your $2M estimate and multiply that by three. Of course the pre-development selling price was no doubt a fraction of today's values. Still, I wonder if the last handful of dues paying club members received an equal share of the selling price as the club disbanded?

      Delete
  3. Interesting.

    Kind of sad to hear of a club dying out like that. My first sailing club in the UK died (after I had left) because they lost the lease to use the lake they were on to a better offer from some motorized form of boating, water skiing I think. Shit happens.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank goodness most of the clubs we remember have managed to hang on despite the pressures associated with the increase in property values/taxes and the decrease in small boat sailing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Do you have any photos or other information about Blair's "Dixie Peach"?

    I've read that Randall Swan was sailing a Connecticut Moth named "Blue Moon II, the same boat in which he won the 1952 Nationals.

    The 1952 reports of the Nationals say that Randall was 18 years old at that time, but those seem to be in error, since he's listed as 19 in 1957, and 11 in 1950. Those make him only about 13 years old when he won the Nationals. I wonder if that would give him the record for the youngest Moth Champion? (Another article says he had been sailing Moths since he was 6!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interestingly, Randall Swan was also second at the 1957 Antonia ("Worlds") that year. He sailed with us up to a couple years ago and was still quite competitive. As for Dixie Peach, I think I do have a very poor quality photo of the boat from a regatta program for the following year's Nats which were held at Blair Fletcher's home club (Cooper River YC. The boat basically was a light weight version of Dorr Willey's design (similar to Harry Cates' boat Hornet). I'll look for the program this weekend and see if I can scan the photo to a reasonable quality.

      Delete