Hall of fame inductees

Four new names to be celebrated

Thursday March 11th 2004, Author: Jan Harley, Location: United States
Four legends of America’s Cup sailing - Tom Whidden, Brad Butterworth, Hank Haff and William Fife III (both deceased) - have been named as the 2004 inductees to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. The inductees will be honoured on the occasion of the Rolex America’s Cup Hall of Fame 12th Annual Induction Ceremony to be held Thursday, 10 June, 2004. The black-tie affair, sponsored by longtime supporter Rolex Watch U.S.A., is scheduled for 7:00pm at Rosecliff, the Newport (R.I.) mansion modeled after the Grand Trianon in France.

Presiding over the Induction Ceremony will be Halsey C. Herreshoff, President of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Tickets are available to the public by contacting the America’s Cup Hall of Fame at +1-401-465-7610 or by email here. Proceeds from the ceremony will benefit the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.

Bradley William Butterworth OBE (1959-)

In the Cup’s long history, no other afterguard member has won so many races in succession as Butterworth.

As tactician aboard three winning boats (New Zealand’s Black Magic in 1995 and 2000, and Switzerland’s Alinghi in 2003), Butterworth set a new Cup record with 15 consecutive America’s Cup race victories.

Born in Te Awamutu, New Zealand, Butterworth performed with distinction in junior sailing before graduating to big boats. He was tactician for both Chris Dickson in New Zealand’s first America’s Cup challenge in 1986-87, and for Russell Coutts aboard New Zealand’s successful trial horse in 1992, into the Louis Vuitton finals. After that, they were always in the number one boats while also winning world championships in match racing. Butterworth, watch captain for Sir Peter Blake on Steinlager II when she won the 1989-90 Whitbread ‘Round The World Race, was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) after New Zealand won the Cup in 1995.

Butterworth is a Grand Master in the game of maritime chess that is the America’s Cup. “My job is to observe the other boats when racing,” said the always-understated Butterworth of his role as tactician. “I have to decide where we ought to be, in which direction we ought to go, given the wind and the adversary’s position.” Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, including having a sharp mind, a fierce competitive spirit, and intimate, trusting relationship with his helmsman. For all those reasons, and for his
remarkable record, Brad Butterworth is elected to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.

William Fife III (1857-1944)

The designer of two of Sir Thomas Lipton’s early Cup challengers, as well as hundreds of other beautiful, fast yachts, William Fife III (sometimes referred to as William Fife, Jr.) was born into his trade in his father’s and grandfather’s shipyard in Fairlie, Scotland. By the age of 30 he was designing and building noted racing boats for clients who included many Americans and Canadians. With G. L. Watson, Fife dominated the design of large sailing yachts in Britain in the 1890s before Watson turned his attention to the design of steam yachts.

When Sir Thomas Lipton decided to challenge for the America’s Cup in 1899, he chose Fife to draw the lines, though, because Shamrock was metal, another builder constructed her. Potentially fast, she was handicapped, first, by having to be heavily built in order to survive the Atlantic crossing and, second, by Fife’s illness at the time of the match. After Lipton came to him again for the 1903 challenger, Fife designed the largest, fastest, and most advanced racing boat then known, Shamrock III. It turned out, however, that Nathanael G. Herreshoff went a long stride further in producing
Reliance.

In 1907 it looked, briefly, as if Fife would get another chance at a Cup design, but Lipton’s negotiations with the New York Yacht Club faltered. When they were resumed in 1912, Charles E. Nicholson had become Britain’s most prominent yacht designer, and, with Fife’s help, he designed Lipton’s last two Shamrocks.

Although not America’s Cup winners, Fife’s Shamrocks and his many other boats, set a standard of excellence for the creation of able, fast boats of remarkable beauty. Long celebrated as one of the best yacht designers in history, his induction in the America’s Cup Hall of Fame places his name on the list of the best designers of Cup yachts.

Henry Coleman Haff (1837-1906)

Nobody in America’s Cup history has sailed in the afterguard of more successful Cup boats than Hank Haff, skipper and/or tactician of four winners between 1881 and 1895. As of 2004, only Nathanael G. Herreshoff, C. Oliver Iselin, and Dennis Conner have matched his remarkable record.

Haff learned to sail while fishing in catboats off Islip, Long Island. His talent as a racing sailor was soon recognised and he rose to the position of 'advisor' (tactician) in the afterguard of two America’s Cup winners, Mischief in 1881 and Mayflower in 1886. In 1887, he was captain of Mayflower and beat back the dangerous challenger Thistle from Scotland.

After serving as skipper of the unsuccessful 1893 defense candidate Colonia, in 1895 he won the Cup again as captain of Defender, crewed by professional fishermen whom he had recruited from Deer Isle, Maine.

The man whom Cup historian Herbert L. Stone called “that foxy old Hank Haff” had a long white beard and was 58 years of age in 1895, making him one of the oldest winning skippers in Cup history. He briefly came out of retirement in 1901 for his sixth America’s Cup season as captain of the defence candidate Independence. Two of his sons later sailed aboard Cup defenders.

One of the very best skippers in the generation before Charlie Barr, Hank Haff dominated big boats in a way matched by few captains, before or since, winning the Cup four times in 14 years. For that he is elected to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.

Thomas A. Whidden (1948-)

Tom Whidden was the most successful America’s Cup tactician of the 1980s, helping to win three of the contests (1980, 1987, and 1988). He has been active with the Cup ever since. “When I was 16 my dream was to become a sailmaker and race in the America's Cup,” said Whidden of his years as a junior sailor on Long Island Sound. He fulfilled both wishes: as a sailmaker he became President of North Sails, and, after he earned Dennis Conner’s respect by besting him in ocean races, Whidden was asked by Conner to help out with the ultimately successful Freedom campaign as trial-horse helmsman and sail trimmer.

As Conner’s tactician aboard Liberty in 1983, Whidden played a key role in the historic match in which the slower defender pushed the faster Australia II to the limit. In the decisive seventh race, after leading most of the way around the course, Liberty was caught on the second-to-last leg. “Our best Cup race ever may have been the one we lost,” said Whidden. In 1987 he helped Stars & Stripes regain the Cup in Perth, Australia, and a year later won his third Cup match in four tries - aboard Stars & Stripes, the catamaran. Whidden again saw Cup action as a tactician in 1995, but lost to the dominant Kiwis. In two subsequent campaigns at Auckland, Stars &
Stripes
, with new helmsmen advised by Whidden, came up short in the challenger eliminations.

Of extreme significance is Whidden’s leadership in the design and manufacture of superb, modern sails at North Sails. Since Whidden became president, the art and science of sail making has been advanced so completely that every America’s Cup contender of 2003 used North Sails.

In America’s Cup history, very few sailors have been involved with as many campaigns (eight) or won as many (three) as Whidden. For his brilliance as a tactical advisor, his soundness as a crew organizer, and his mastery of winning in difficult boats under the most demanding conditions, Tom Whidden is elected to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.

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