Some boats simply have an allure of their own.
Sightings of Y1 YANKEE continued for decades after the boat was scrapped. Is this because Starling Burgess touched her, sailed her, oversaw her construction?
Or is it simply because when a YOD sailboat changes owners, some people do away with the boat’s name, and simply called it their “Yankee.”
There is also a great story behind the strange fact that this class has two hull number thirteens.
As you check out our photo collections, keep in mind a few notes about these now beautiful boats:
Y19 DAWN was once a sadly dilapidated sailboat that was purchased and lovingly restored by a previous owner, decades after he raced her. A happy ending for anyone who’s ever regretted selling a favorite boat.
Y21 SIROCCO sat in a field for 17 years in Washington State, with flowers growing in the bilge, was restored, raced again, and is now in excellent shape in France — offering hope for all the boats now sitting in the tall grass.
Y29 WESTWARD HO shows us how well a boat can do if it’s lucky enough to be in the same family for over 50 years.
Y43 GEMINI, the most recent Yankee, built in 2010, was named for the zodiacal “twins” because she was built to replace the much loved and retired Y36 VENTURE, and has many of VENTURE’s parts, like the hardware, the lead keel, and hatch covers. She’s a new boat with an old soul.
Here are a few more tidbits to enjoy:
1. Man Overboard!
That [photo of TARFUN in WoodenBoat Magazine issue 221] reminds me of David Barnes Stone’s story of slipping off the foredeck of a yankee on a real Nantucket sleighride back to Marion from an Opera Cup. He fell onto the big deck cleat, injuring his ribs, rolled off the boat into Nantucket Sound, and caught a sidestay at the last moment with one hand.
The only other person on the boat was his aunt on the helm, who watched helplessly.
He was maybe 18 years old and strong enough to pull himself up out of the water and back onto the deck. No life preservers, of course, back in the 1940s, so he would probably have drowned if he had let go of the shroud. When he crawled back into the cockpit, his aunt said simply, “Nice to have you back on board.” David went on to found the New England Aquarium and have a remarkable life, but it almost ended one lumpy afternoon on a yankee!
– Dan Page, 5/11/11
2. A Serendipitous Entry
Brad Noyes told the story of sailing with Ted and Mrs. Hood on Brad’s boat one summer in Massachusetts. They ran into the 1956 Mallory Cup trials that were being run on yankees and asked if anyone was representing their Eastern Yacht Club.
No one was and there was an extra boat available, so Brad, Ted and Mrs. Hood raced it and won. They then raced in the nationals on Lake Washington in Seattle and won the Mallory Cup that year!
– Dan Page, 5/5/11
3. The Sprightly RIGADOON.
I crewed as light canvas man on Y30 RIDAGOON, from 1966 to 1969. I think that she was built in 1947, but not sure. She was berthed at Cleveland Yacht Club along with 4 other boats. Y19 DAWN was definitely one of the boats that I raced against. RIGADOON was owed by Bill Kirby for a few years and then sold to Bill Cowan. That is if my memory services me correct.
I think that Dawn was owned by Bobby Sessions. We would have one design races off Rocky River in Lake Erie. I have about a 15 minute 8 mm movie of about 10 of these yachts racing off the coast of Cleveland.
RIGADOON always was a leaker and on each leg we had to pump her out. Around 1969 an attempt was made to reframe her but to no success. I do not remember what happened to her.
I do remember starting in late March getting her ready to sail. The first year was my first dealing with a butt planked boat. Every weekend sanding recauking and painting with copper paint. Was my wife ever upset with me. (that is saying in nicely). Then when she went into the water leaked until she swelled up. I was disappointed! We had many enjoyable sailing days on her.
– Jim Bomberg, crew Y30 RIGADOON
Jim adds: The (very fitting) definition of “rigadoon” is a sprightly 17th-century French folk dance for couples. Its hopping steps were adopted by the skillful dancers of the French and English courts, where it remained fashionable through the 18th century. Conjecture assigns its origins to Provencal sailors… it was performed by dancers who ran, turned, and repeated in place a series of jumping steps.
4. Memories of the Wonderful ALERIA
My first sail in a Yankee (Aleria – Y27) was rather inauspicious. My younger brother John, my father, James Jackson, Jr., and I picked Aleria up in Hull and set off for the Cape Cod Canal. The wind was light and fluky and our pace was such that we arrived at the East end of the canal well after dark.
On the Cape side of the East entrance there is was an unmarked almost submerged breakwater which we succeeded in bouncing over on our way to the harbor of refuge where we spent the night.
The next morning we were towed through the canal by a friend’s powerboat heading directly to Bigalow’s yard where she was hauled. The only damage was to the lead quickly corrected with a 3 pound hammer.
My dad, mother and usually two siblings for crew headed our from Monument Beach every Saturday to race in Marion. We were unbeatable in light air, but middle of the fleetish in the typical Buzzards Bay Sou’wester.
I spent a week or two each summer cruising with teen age friends — we ranged from Long Island Sound to the West and Nantucket to the East.
I have two memories which stick in my mind about this wonderful boat.
The first was at a Nantucket Regatta where I believe there were six or eight Yankees crossing the line. My father was unable to make the regatta so my older brother, Jim was skippering.We were on a downwind leg a few yards to leeward of Dick Wakeman in Monsoon when I heard a snapping sound and turned to see Jim holding a broken tiller yelling at Monsoon.
We rounded up rather quickly just missing Monsoon’s stern spinnaker wrapped around everything. This should have been the end of the story except we had left our only anchor back in the harbor to mark out our territory.
The Coast Guard towed us in letting us know in no uncertain terms that we were not really clever and we were lucky they were so busy rescuing other boats in trouble.
My most exciting experience in a Yankee was when Beverly Yacht Club hosted the Cummings Cup in 1947. My crew which included Nick Baker, Toby’s older brother, had won the eliminations racing in Vineyard Sound in Vineyard 15’s and were excited to get on the Yankees.
Because the boats were quite a bit larger than the norm for this series we were limited to working jibs and no spinnakers. The best part was we won the Cummings cup and went on to win the Sears Cup. The Yankee really did what she was designed to do.
I can’t remember the year when the Yankee, US 1, 5.5, International and several others I can’t remember raced in Marblehead, Buzzards Bay and somewhere on Long Island Sound. The Yankee was mediocre at best in Marblehead and the Sound, but was unbeatable on Buzzards Bay.
– Mike Jackson, 2/21/11