In the summer of 1971 while working on the docks at Wayfarer Marine in Camden, Maine, I was asked to assist Captain Preston Jacobs on a Trumpy power yacht called Megara. Megara was owned by the late NYYC Commodore Henry Sears. Later in 1975, I was commissioned to build a model for Henry Sears of the 12 meter yacht Columbia. His original model had been gifted to the NYYC as a tradition by the challengers and defenders. My model was to round off his own personal collection reflecting his rich yachting career.
Shortly after arriving at the NYYC several members at the bar noticed my presence and demanded to see the model that I was delivering. Two of those individuals were Briggs Dalzell and Briggs Cunningham. Knowing I would be departing the next day to the Maryland farm, where the model was to be rigged and ultimately reside, Briggs and Briggs tried to persuade me to swap out the model Henry gave the club with my model. This was quite a compliment for a young 22 year old model builder.
I told Henry and his wife Mary this story the next day on our trip from New York city to Chestertown, Maryland and Henry was quite amused and mentioned “this was typical of those SOB’s”. They were of course his oldest and very close NYYC syndicate friends.
In the late 1970’s I was in Newport, Rhode Island on one of the piers opposite where Olin Stephens was examining one of his racing designs, probably Courageous. I yelled across to see if I could use the Sears connection to gain access to see the boat and to ultimately meet him. He replied to my request “I fail to see the significance”. I left disappointed…. Many years later Olin Stephens in his 90’s was visiting Camden for the traditional Woodenboat race. Olin came to visit our shop and I reminded him of that story which he claimed not to recall with a smile. The next day I observed Olin Stephens passionately photographing boats from the aft deck of Bob Scott’s Concordia with a large telephoto lens.
In 1978 after graduating from Wentworth Institute and returning to Maine for summer work, I was employed by a local jeweler, Daryl Reiff, who won award recognition from DeBeers and Diamonds Today.
In 1979 I moved to Boston to work in an architectural office overseeing the model shop of Benjamin Thompson & Associates, creators of the famed Faneuil Hall Marketplace. While in Boston, I was able to set up my shop in Lincoln, Massachusetts for the next four years. It was during this period that I was employed by another model shop in Waltham and a jewelry store in Wellesley, Mass.
I had never lost my fascination for the America’s Cup. I went to Newport, Rhode Island for a sales visit where I met Mr. Joseph Aronson, owner of Aronson’s Jewelry store. He was a keen businessman who wasted no words and told it like it was. He knew his clientele and his business and you did it his way! He bought some of my custom sailboat pins and asked me to make some small (2-5/8” long) 12-meter sculptures that he could sell to his clientele. These were done in sterling silver.
During this time I built a 14 Karat Yellow gold sculpture for some friends of mine who were Defender syndicate members. The late Tom Blackaller helmed Defender and was defeated in the running against Liberty sailed by Dennis Connor. Dennis lost the cup to Alan Bond sailing Australia 11. Pictured below is that Defender sculpture still available for viewing and or for sale to the right individual. It is a small piece of America’s Cup history.
Joseph Aronson also gave me a small, replica America’s Cup Trophy pendant/charm he wanted produced in gold and silver for his store. Classic Yacht Models continue to make these available today in 14 Karat white gold and sterling silver.