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Forty Years & the Hall of Fame

January 14, 2002

When Sailing World’s predecessor (One-Design Yachtsman) began publication in 1962, the sailboat racing world was much smaller. Most boats were still made of wood and there were about 60 classes, less than a third what we have today. Boats were generally smaller, and big-boat racing was still fairly exclusive. The America’s Cup had only just restarted (in 1958) after two decades without a contest. And smart young sailors with names like Elvström, Hood, North, Melges, and O’Day were making an impact.

Our June issue will be devoted to a celebration of racing between then and now, but since our anniversary year begins with this issue, we’re embarking on a year-long series that will also take you back. “Sailing, Through My Eyes,” combines outstanding photos with the voices of individuals involved in major racing events and developments of the past. The series kicks off this month with a glimpse of a blockbuster event staged by this magazine 20 years ago–the Hall of Fame Regatta. The picture speaks for itself, and the winner of the regatta–whose name you’ll recognize–describes a moment in time amidst some of the biggest names in the sport.

The Sailing World Hall of Fame was inaugurated that year, 1982, to commemorate our 20th year of publication, and most of the living members came to compete–including the likes of Dennis Conner, Eric Tabarly, Buddy Melges and Paul Elvström. Since then we’ve named 15 more members, and each time we’ve done so, readers have helped with the process. Naturally, our Hall of Fame has a North American focus, but it also includes sailors and designers from overseas who have compiled outstanding records in elite championships and/or made watershed contributions to competitive sailing through technical expertise or vision.

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We plan to name several new members this spring, and if you look at the list, I’m sure some missing names will come to you. We encourage your nominations, which may be made to Sailing World Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 3400, Newport, RI 02840, by e-mail to [email protected], or via the sailingworld.comwebsite.

Speaking of sailingworld.com, please stop by the new Hall of Fame section we are building there. We hope to have a physical home for the Hall of Fame one day, but in the meantime, we’re building an online venue. It’s important that we continue to acknowledge the best and most influential people in sailboat racing and capture their stories. Time passes, the next season comes and goes, new champions rise as old ones move on, and the history of our sport grows longer.

Even as we prepared this issue came the stunning word of Peter Blake’s murder (see pg. 12). As with other Hall of Famers who have died, we keenly feel his loss. As the shock wears off, we can see that we have an opportunity and an obligation within the Hall of Fame: there we can ensure that this New Zealander who engineered nearly perfect conquests of both the Whitbread Race and the America’s Cup will be remembered by all those who race in his wake.

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