Front Rudder - January 2020

Birth And Elegance

An elegant and historic thing happened in Flensburg, Germany recently. The America′s Cup Hall of Fame hosted their 2019 Induction Ceremony there, which was a first, but of equal importance the event actually had a pulse, compared to the lifeless affair in Portsmouth, England last year which was more of a Prada party than honoring the inductees that time around.

Flensburg is home to the Robbe and Berking Yachting Heritage Center, which has come a long way in a short time, and has a world class repository of maritime and yachting history. More on all that later.

The ACHoF has been picking up steam in recent years as the event has gone globe-trotting from its home base at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island. With over 168 years of characters and history to draw from, there will be much to harvest from for many years to come. Many members of the latest generation of stars are only entering their prime, and having next year′s America′s Cup in Auckland, New Zealand will give several of them a platform to showcase their skills, be it several feet above the water with the new AC75 foiling monohull just starting to get its tips wet!

The induction ceremony for the America′s Cup Hall of Fame Class of 2019 honored Dyer Jones, Henry Racamier, and Bill Trenkle this year. The event was held around the Center′s new exhibition: “The America′s Cup: The history of the oldest, and one of the most fascinating trophies in sports history” with the Herreshoff Marine Museum′s fully-rigged 1/6th-scale model of the 1903 Cup Defender Reliance as its centerpiece.

“This is shaping up to be an epic event,” said Herreshoff Museum President Bill Lynn. “Our collaboration with Oliver Berking and his team has resulted in an amazing exhibit on the history of the Cup, and this partnership represents a natural extension of the relationship.”

The Hall of Fame Induction will help shine a spotlight on Robbe and Berking′s deep involvement with constructing, restoring and maintaining classic 12-Meters.

“To me, 12-Meter yachts are the epitome of sailing elegance and beauty,” said Berking. “We had the honor of hosting the 12-Meter World Championship and the 12-Meter European Championship twice, and we have eleven of them in our sheds. Among them are the first two AC challengers Down Under, Gretel from 1962 and Kiwi Magic from 1987. It was a deep honor to now host the Induction Ceremony.”

Given that the 2019 inductees all played prominent roles in the America′s Cup′s 12-Meter era, Flensburg is a particularly appropriate venue for this event. This induction ceremony will deliver an unparalleled experience for attendees in a totally unique venue.

AC Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chair Steve Tsuchiya is looking forward to it. “We′ve held induction galas in several different countries, however this will be our first one in Germany. Anyone interested in America′s Cup history, and the 12-Meters in particular, will want to put this event on their bucket list!”

The America′s Cup Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to yachting′s most distinguished competition. It was founded in 1992, under the auspices of the Herreshoff Marine Museum by Halsey Herreshoff, a four-time America′s Cup Defender and grandson of legendary yacht designer Nathanael Herreshoff.

Nearly eighty legends of the Cup have been inducted into the Hall. Candidates eligible for consideration include members of the crew, designers, builders, syndicate leaders, supporters, chroniclers and other individuals of merit.

Each nominee is judged on the basis of outstanding ability, international recognition, character, performance and contributions to the sport. The members of the selection committee are persons intimate with the history and traditions of America′s Cup, and committed to the integrity of the Hall of Fame.

William T. “Bill” Trenkle (USA)
(b. 1958)

The first time I ever met Bill Trenkle was in the summer of 1987, after Stars & Stripes recaptured the America′s Cup down in Fremantle, Western Australia, and ironically right after Sir Michael Fay had rolled into San Diego for lunch to drop off his DoG “bomb” challenge for the Auld Mug.

It was a sweltering hot day in downtown Pittsburgh at Station Square where one of the sky-blue Stars & Stripe′s 12-Meter yachts were on display (probably S&S 83 the old Spirit of America).

Trenkle was part of the team entourage touring America to show off the boats and talk about the Cup to keep interest strong, since the event was now peaking after Dennis Conner′s dramatic win Down Under.

It was right after my brother′s wedding and I was bringing the relatives that were in town out for a look at what I did for a living, which was write and talk about the event.

Trenkle was very polite and answered many of my “off the record” questions as well as the obvious ones from my relatives. For me it was an interesting encounter because the following week I was on my way to San Diego to relocate there for the next America′s Cup, which as circumstances and the New York Court System would have it, set up DoG ordered races for the next summer.

Trenkle is among the leaders who exemplifies what racing in the America′s Cup symbolizes. He was part of both winning and losing campaigns and had an excellent reputation for his skills and integrity.

If one were to describe Trenkle in one word, it would be “loyal.” He raced and worked with Dennis Conner in eight America′s Cup campaigns over a 24-year stretch from 1979 through 2003, winning the America′s Cup three times. During that period, Trenkle evolved from a “possible” crew as a Cadet at the State University of New York Maritime College (Class of 1980) to Conner′s long time Director of Operations.

In his book, Comeback, Conner said, “Bill is a seaman in the finest sense of that term. He understands from both an academic and a practical standpoint what it takes to make a boat go. Give a job to Bill, any job, and you know that it will be done to perfection.” That is high praise from a demanding skipper like Conner.

In the early days of his Cup career, Trenkle was a sail trimmer, first on the tune-up boat, and then on the varsity team for the 1986-87 series in Fremantle. As a port tailer aboard the victorious Stars & Stripes ′87, Trenkle had an eye for fast-sail shapes, possessed lightning reflexes, and, most importantly, could consistently anticipate what Conner would do with the helm.

Conner recalled, “I never once had to say a word about sail trim.”

Using his degree in engineering from the Maritime College, Trenkle assisted in the project managing of the construction of the three 12-Meter yachts for the 1986-87 series, and the huge, innovative wing sail for the Stars & Stripes catamaran in 1988.

Since 1996, Trenkle is President and Director of Operations of Dennis Conner Sports. No job was ever too big or too small for Trenkle, earning an excellent reputation in the America′s Cup community.

Henry Racamier (France) (1912–2003)

Tall and elegant with a twinkle in his eye, French businessman Henry Racamier became part of America′s Cup history in 1982 the moment he agreed to sponsor the official “Challenger Races for the America′s Cup” organized by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (the Challenger of Record) in Newport. Later, in the summer of 1983, he presented the newly created Louis Vuitton Cup to the winners, John Bertrand and Alan Bond.

The decision to associate Louis Vuitton with the America′s Cup was a logical and clever one: Founded in 1854, LV was a contemporary of the Cup (1851). Over the following decade, until he stopped holding the reins of Louis Vuitton, Racamier was passionately dedicated to the association between Louis Vuitton′s culture and history and the America′s Cup, and historical personalities such as Sir Thomas Lipton and Harold Vanderbilt were clients of the firm.

When the following America′s Cup began in Fremantle (1986-87 series), the Louis Vuitton Cup was established as a major sporting and media event in its own right. With Bruno Troublé as Racamier′s right-hand man, the Louis Vuitton Cup, supported by a strong team, became a full-fledged organization within one of sport′s marquee events.

Racamier′s previous professional life was not spent at Louis Vuitton but rather as Chairman and owner of a successful steel company. It was through his marriage to Odile Vuitton, great grand-daughter of the founder, Louis, that he became involved with the company.

Upon the death of his father-in-law, Georges-Louis Vuitton in 1976, Racamier joined Louis Vuitton as Executive Chairman at 65, an age when most decide to retire, bringing with him his dynamic and modern management style.

Soon after his arrival, Racamier transformed Louis Vuitton from a prestigious but quiet 132-year old artisanal family business with three shops into a leading global luxury brand listed on the Paris and New York stock exchanges in 1984. Under Racamier, revenue and profitability increased 25-fold in less than 10 years.

In 1987, Racamier founded LVMH, merging the Louis Vuitton group (Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Veuve Clicquot, et. al.) with Moët-Hennessy.

When Racamier left the chairmanship in 1992, the Louis Vuitton Cup was in full swing. Louis Vuitton continued to support the Challenger Races and the American′s Cup until 2017, the longest association for any brand with any event in the world of sports.

William H. Dyer Jones (USA) (b. 1946)

Dyer Jones′ contribution to the America′s Cup stretched from 1967, during the 12-Meter era in Newport, through to the last appearance of the America′s Cup Class in Valencia in 2007. During that time, he played a pivotal role at several important turning points in the history of the America′s Cup.

In 1967, Jones served as an occasional crew member aboard Columbia during the defender selection trials. Throughout the 1970s, he served on Auxiliary Committees of the New York Yacht Club′s America′s Cup Race Committee.

Jones achieved his first leadership role in the America′s Cup in 1983, serving as Chairman of the NYYC′s Race Committee during the famous Australia II v. Liberty match at a time when controversies swirled around the Cup, threatening to derail the competition over Australia II′s winged keel.

After the controversy and legal proceedings surrounding the New Zealand “Big-Boat” challenge of 1988, Jones helped organize a Trustee′s Committee to resolve future disputes without recourse to the New York courts. This committee has since become the America′s Cup Arbitration Panel.

Given Jones′ experience in race management and as former Commodore of the New York Yacht Club (1991-92), he was selected to lead the Challengers′ Association for the 2000 match held in Auckland. For the following match there in 2003, Jones served as the Regatta Director for the Louis Vuitton Challenger Selection Series.

On the strength of his qualifications, Jones was appointed by the new Swiss Defender and the Challenger of Record to become the Regatta Director for the first America′s Cup Regatta to be held in Europe, in Valencia, Spain, which included a new series of preliminary lead-up regattas held in four European venues.

Jones played a major part in the successes of the America′s Cup regattas in Newport in 1983, in Auckland in 1999-2000 and 2002-2003, and in Valencia in 2007. He has served every America′s Cup role he filled with distinction and a gentlemanly quiet but firm confidence that instilled trust and earned the respect of competitors and officials of many nationalities often in the heat of very tough competition.

At the Induction Ceremony, Tom Whidden opened his speech about Bill Trenkle with: “The 2019 ACHOF Induction will be held in Flensburg, Germany! Why? Now I see why!”

It was evident to all the attendees that the Yachting Heritage Centre was an excellent venue to hold the Hall of Fame Induction.

The Robbe & Berking Yachting Heritage Centre, founded by Oliver Berking, is currently home to a wonderful America′s Cup history exhibit, with items on loan from the Herreshoff Museum, Elizabeth Meyer, William Collier and many others.

Its adjoining boatyard, the Berking Classics Yard, with Vim, Gretel, Kiwi Magic and eight other classic 12-Meter boats, added a special touch given the three inductees′ association with the 12-Meter era. And, as with the best induction events, it was a meaningful reunion of participants and fans of the Cup. It was a treat to witness Bill Trenkle, Tom Whidden, Tom Schnackenberg, Grant Simmer, Ken McAlpine, Joop Slooff, Bruno Trouble and Dyer Jones reminisce about the 12-Meter days.

Oliver and Esther Berking, their children, and the Robbe & Berking team were, needless to say, superb hosts. The Herreshoff Marine Museum team led by Bill Lynn (President) and David Ford (Chairman of the Board of Directors) did a great job representing the Museum, and in helping organize the event.

The format of the evening was one of the keys to its success. First, a 1.5 hour-long reception for guests to circulate about the exhibit and the boatyard, then the guests went upstairs to the Center′s restaurant for the first course. After that, the attendees filed back downstairs for the Induction Ceremony (not too long, not too short), then back upstairs for the main course – with the suggestion that everyone change seats at their table. After dinner, the guests had the opportunity to further mingle and explore the venue.

This Induction was very festive given the many opportunities to socialize, and the wide selection of drinks from champagne to Dark and Stormys! It was a nine-hour event for some of us. Now that′s a good party!

Dyer said it best: “It is the finest one I have ever attended, and I say that not because I was involved. Rather, it is because I have been to many, but not all of the Inductions over the years since 1993, and this Induction evening was the most exceptional, enjoyable and memorable of all and all done with such perfect style in an extraordinary setting.”

John Lammerts van Bueren, a member of the Selection Committee, brought Berking and Bill Lynn, president of the Herreshoff Marine Museum together to make the event possible in the first place. John also delivered an eloquent speech about Dyer.

Bruno Trouble and Tom Whidden gave wonderful and entertaining speeches about Henry Racamier and Bill Trenkle, respectively. Gary Jobson produced the excellent videos of the Inductees. Jack Griffin runs the Cup Experience Web Site, and was a former Communications Director with Alinghi. He made an effective ambassador and shared the mission of the Hall of Fame with many of the attendees.

The exhibitions at the Robbe & Berking Yachting Heritage Center explore the fascination of life in, around and on the water. Located next to the Robbe & Berking Classics yacht building yard, the Center emphasizes yachting history as a central focus. In addition to each exhibition, the Center also houses the largest yachting library in the world, plus two galleries, a museum shop and a sizeable museum restaurant with a wonderful view of the historical center of Flensburg.

The mission of the Yachting Heritage Center is to preserve the tradition of classic yacht sailing, and make the history and beauty of classic yachts accessible to the public.

Flensburg is an independent town (Kreisfreie Stadt) in the north of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Flensburg is the center of the region of Southern Schleswig. After Kiel and Lübeck, it is the third largest town in Schleswig-Holstein.

In May 1945, Flensburg was the seat of the last government of Germany. The so-called was led by Admiral Dònitz was in power from the announcement of Hitler′s death, for one week, until German armies surrendered, and the town was occupied by Allied troops. Funny story, Dònitz, was the head of the German Naval Forces. In high school we simulated the Nuremberg Trials and my best friend played the role of Donitz, who originally got 10 years, but I ramped up the prosecution and got him life. Anyway…

In Germany, Flensburg is the home of the large erotic mail-order companies Beate Uhse and Orion. It lies at the innermost tip of the Flensburg Firth, an inlet of the Baltic Sea. Flensburg′s eastern shore is part of the Angeln peninsula.

The shipyard Robbe & Berking Classics was founded in the summer of 2008, following our restoration and complete rebuild of the 12-Meter yacht Sphinx to benefit from and expand on the very special skills and expertise that have been generated for this exceptional project.

Located in the harbor of Flensburg, we are now restoring classic motor and sailing yachts and are also building replicas of historic yachts that have been lost, and with genuine passion, careful attention to detail and at fair prices.

Part of their amazing collection includes:

Anker 434

Johan Anker′s ultimate masterpiece is the 12-Meter Class design No. 434. In the world of classical boat enthusiasts, Johan Anker (1871 - 1940) is known as a master of elegant ship lines. He achieved an outstanding reputation in his period of activity not only as designer and builder of many successful yachts, but also as a successful sailor.

Amongst others, he was the initiator of the legendary conference held in London 1906, where the major sailing countries agreed on the International Rule of Measurement for Rating as the first international handicapping system. At the age of 68, Johan Anker created his latest 12-Meter Class design in 1939 before he passed away the following year.

Due to the outbreak of war, his design No. 434 was never built. Robbe & Berking Classics retrieved the complete set of drawings and is pleased to build this remarkable 12-Meter Class design on behalf of a Scandinavian owner committed to Meter Class sailing.


One of the legendary yachts from the Big Boat Series, Baruna, was an Olin Stephens design commissioned by Henry C. Taylor. It was built to the maximum size under the CCA rule and launched in 1938. She won first overall in the 1938 Bermuda Race with a lead of eight hours, setting the long-standing race record. She did so again in 1948 against a much more modern fleet, and was described by many as “Queen of the CCA fleet.”

To equip her with winches, the Barient Winch Company was found with Baruna lending the “Bar” to the company′s name. Towards the end of his life, Stephens called her “one of my prettiest.” That says it all. Another grand beauty and sailing piece of yachting heritage is going to be restored at Robbe & Berking Classics.


Is another spectacular project there? The yard is restoring the 3rd rule 12-Meter class yacht Jenetta, designed by Alfred Mylne, who was one of the most experienced 12-Meter designers in the world.

Mylne designed her in 1939 for Sir William Burton, and she was the 4th and last 12-Meter for Burton, who was the best English gentleman sailor in the 1920s and president of the I.Y.R.U. at that time, being the helmsman of Shamrock IV in the 1920 Americas Cup for his friend and business partner, Sir Thomas Lipton.

In 1939 not less than four new Twelves entered the English regatta scene, with Jenetta being the most promising construction besides T.O.M. Sopwith´s Tomahawk. During the 1939 races Jenetta was the only boat capable of beating Vanderbilt′s 1939 S&S construction Vim by 2 seconds in a 27nm race.

Vim′s dominance on the track back then is said to be based on Vanderbilt′s exceptional sailing abilities, and the fact that Vim was hard to beat on the upwind leg due to the grinder/winch setup which enabled the crew to tack rather quickly.

During the upcoming season, Jenetta will once more prove her potential as soon as she has been launched in spring to participate in the 12-Meter circuit in the Baltic Sea, and to continue the race history of those good old days.

Sir Peter Blake,
A Remembrance

Tragedy rocked the yachting world community almost twenty years ago this month as the stunning news that yachting legend Sir Peter Blake of New Zealand had been killed by pirates as they were attempting to rob his crew aboard his ship, the Seamaster.

Blake was in the midst of an environmental expedition of the Amazon River when the incident occurred. The Seamaster was docked in the port city of Macapa in the northeastern state of Amapa in Brazil. According to published accounts, Blake was below deck when masked gunmen boarded the ship. With commotion on top Blake rushed up the stairs armed with a rifle to protect his crew. He was shot twice in the back by the startled robbers who anticipated no resistance. Blake died immediately.

Blake′s expedition was midway thru an exploration of the environmentally sensitive forest regions of the Amazon River basin in Brazil, and working through customs on their way to the Orinroco River in Venezuela when the tragedy struck.

Sir Peter′s stature in New Zealand is approached only by Sir Edmund Hillary who climbed to the top of Mount Everest half a century ago. Beyond his leadership in winning the America′s Cup in 1995 for New Zealand, Blake′s reputation for honesty and integrity was unparalleled in the world of sport.

After much acrimony in the 1995 America′s Cup in San Diego, Blake worked to elevate the event to a higher level with a vision of sportsmanship and honor for a small country of 3.5 million inhabitants.

“We want to ensure that this is an event that parents want their sons and daughters in, even if it means that we hold the Cup Defense only once,” Blake once said. “We will make the competition fairer.” Which they did, but unfortunately it only lasted a few years as the Kiwis relinquished the Cup to Switzerland in 2003.

Blake was admitted to the America′s Cup HoF in 1996.

At 6.5 feet in height, he was tall in stature and taller in life. Blake commanded the respect of teammates and opponents alike. After winning in San Diego he led the Cousteau Society, and was appointed as a special envoy to the United Nations Environmental Program.

As the winning skipper in the 1989-90 Whitbread Around the World Race on Steinlager, Blake led the way into every port city. In 1993, he sailed with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on Enza New Zealand in the nonstop around the world race for the Jules Verne Trophy in a record 74 days and 22 hours.

He led the New Zealand America′s Cup efforts in 1995 and 2000, before departing to embark on the Blakexpeditions project.
Throughout his life, he was a man of few words and extraordinary deeds. The sailing community lost a pillar of courage and New Zealand a legend.

Same time next month H

© 2010 Yachtsman, All Rights Reserved.   |   Home   |   Contact Us                     Bookmark and Share