Editorial August 2009 Issue

Charley Morgan's Lovely Legacy

Fifty-two years ago, a mongrel yawl named Brisote was launched on the waters of Tampa Bay, setting in motion a chain of events as improbable as they are inspiring. The hard-chined hull form was the creation of local designer Charlie Hunt and a 28-year-old sailmaker named Charley Morgan. Evolving during midnight "tank tests" of small scale models on nearby Lake Wales, the hull cut through the water with little effort. But with its boxy cabin top and hard chine, the boat was hardly a work of art. In the rush to make the start of the 1957 St. Petersburg, Fla. to Havana Race, the masts, sails, and keel were scavenged from other boats. The race committee initially snubbed Brisote, contending it wasn’t fit for a sailing race to Havana because it lacked an engine. The absurdity of banning a sailboat for being a sailboat prompted a few choice words from Morgan and the committee promptly retreated. The boat, true to its name, breezed to first in its class.

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