The sport of sailing, and the boating world at large, lost an icon over the weekend with the passing of Frederick E. “Ted” Hood on June 28. Hood, who was born in Beverly, Mass., on May 5, 1927, was a longtime member of the New York Yacht Club, joining in 1960. He was 86 years old. [Please note memorial information below]
"Ted was such an important part of the heritage of the New York Yacht Club," said New York Yacht Club Commodore Thomas Harrington, "And he'll be sorely missed."
Hood, who grew up in Marblehead, Mass., was a complete sailor. He started his career as a sailmaker, and when he couldn’t find sailcloth to his standards, he built a loom and started making his own. He then branched out into yacht design and construction. He was also a remarkable innovator when it came to sailing gear and technique. He is credited with the grooved headstay, roller furling, and the dip-pole jibe, among other things. And, of course, through it all, he was a superlative skipper. His signature performance on the water was a 4-0 win in the 1974 America’s Cup, driving Courageous. But he was a dominant force in ocean racing for decades, winning races from the SORC to Marblehead Halifax, usually at the helm of one of his many boats named Robin. His record puts him on par with any of the top skippers of his generation, or any generation. His understated, gentlemanly manner may have contributed to his accomplishments being overshadowed by those of more outspoken sailors.
“Ted Hood lived in a time when specialties were not the norm,” said New York Yacht Club Vice Commodore Rives Potts, a veteran of the 12-Metre era of the America’s Cup. “He was the most forward-thinking, the most complete yachtsman of that generation, and maybe of generations to come. Nowadays, we have guys who are excellent helmsmen, or tacticians, or bowmen or are good yacht designers or sailmakers. Or maybe a good yard manager. Ted Hood was all of those and more.”
In the mid-1980s, Hood sold his sailmaking business and focused on boat design and construction. He purchased the Melville Boat Basin, in Portsmouth, R.I., from the government and built the Ted Hood Marine Complex. Little Harbor Yachts, which he started in the 1960s, was initially a sailboat company. But as the market for sailboats softened and the demand for powerboats increased, he shifted his focus. He was among the first to embrace jet drive propulsion for power boats. He sold the company to Hinckley Yachts in 1999. Soon after he started Ted Hood Yachts, which has a broad line of ocean-going poweryachts and motorsailers.
According to a biography posted at tedhood.com, he was refining and improving his designs right into his last days.
Memorial information: In honor of Frederick E. "Ted" Hood (May 5, 1927 – June 28, 2013), the Hood family cordially invites all he has touched to a celebration of his life to be held at New York Yacht Club's Harbour Court, Newport, RI on Friday, September 20 at 11 a.m. Parking at the Club may be limited; overflow parking will be available on Wellington Ave. Carpooling where possible is encouraged, as is arriving early. All are welcome to stay for refreshments and to share stories following the service.