Ted Hood Designer Series Race & Rendezvous in Bristol, RI

Ted Hood (1927-2013) made a lot of history during his lifetime. He was an innovative sailmaker and yacht designer, an America’s Cup winner, and a businessman who helped transform an abandoned parcel of Navy land in Portsmouth into a thriving complex of marine businesses. But the new Designer Series, which takes place this month in Bristol, will make some history of its own: this event will be the first time a fleet exclusively of Hood-designed boats will gather to race, rendezvous and celebrate the man behind these remarkable yachts.

“This event will be a first,” said Ted Hood, Jr. of Newport, who worked with his father from the time he entered the workforce until Hood’s business was sold in 2000. “It will be all encompassing, with all varieties of Hood designs—from his earliest to his latest. We hope to showcase that diversity, since my father was not just one brand.”

The 3-day Designer Series takes place at the Herreshoff Marine Museum from July 21-23. The fleet of sail and powerboats will range from a unique 21’ sloop with a lifting keel to the luxurious 116’ Whisper built in the Netherlands, one of the last boats created by the Ted Hood Design Group. Many Little Harbors and Bristols, two popular boat lines Hood is noted for, will also be sailing. The event is designed so members of the marine industry and all boating fans, in addition to boat owners and their crews, can take part is this historic celebration.

On-water events for the fleet will be held on Saturday, including racing for sailboats and a log race for powerboats. Tickets to an “open-boat” party on Friday evening, where attendees can view and board the fleet, and Saturday night’s clambake featuring the local band Sugarbabies are still available. The public and members of the marine industry, especially those who worked with Hood and on his boats, are welcomed to the Saturday clambake to hear stories and reminisce about Hood, his work and his life. Sunday will feature a boat parade along Bristol’s harbor front.

The breadth of Hood’s talent lives on in the boats he created and the people who are still enjoying them. Unique to this event are two boats that bookend Hood’s illustrious design career—including the latest Hood design Whisper and the original Robin, the 40-foot sloop that launched Hood’s design career in 1959.

As a young man in his early 30s, Hood was known as a sailmaker from Marblehead (MA). But that all changed with Robin—a unique shoal-draft centerboarder Hood designed and painted robin’s-egg blue. Hood skippered the boat to many regatta wins in its first summer, and as his son Bob Hood of Portsmouth (R.I.) remembers: “All of a sudden, people started to wonder who this guy from Marblehead was.” The boat cemented Hood’s talent as a helmsman with a unique approach to yacht design. Hood subsequently designed the 12-Meter Nefertiti, which came close to defending the 1962 America’s Cup; he won the 1974 America’s Cup as helmsman of Courageous.

Robin was soon sold to new owners, which left Hood the opportunity to design a new Robin. All totaled, he designed some 30 boats named Robin during his career–all different designs and strong performers that sold to new owners. The family lost track of the original Robin, until a friend alerted them that the boat was languishing and in rough shape in Maryland. The family brought the boat to Rhode Island and gave it a total refit; the public can see this historic sloop at the Designer Series.

A core of marine-industry professionals who worked closely with Ted Hood—including Andy Tyska of Bristol Marine, Ted Fontaine (Fontaine Design Group, Portsmouth) and Matthew Smith (Matthew Smith, Naval Architect, Barrington)—and Hood’s sons Ted Jr. (Wellington Yacht Partners, Portsmouth) and Bob (Hinckley Yacht Services, Portsmouth) are together spearheading the event.

The Designer Series was conceived as a perennial happening that will salute a different iconic designer each year. An important part of the event’s mission is to also cultivate the Ted Hoods of the future. A scholarship has been created to support an individual pursuing a career in recreational yacht design or marine engineering, service or construction. Individuals who wish to apply can do so at designerseries.org/2017/scholarship. The application deadline is August 1.

To purchase tickets to the weekend’s festivities, please visit the event website or call 401-253-2200. Attendees can purchase tickets to Friday or Saturday night’s parties separately, or opt for a Weekend Package. 

Owners of Ted Hood designs who have not yet finalized their plans to attend the Designer Series are encouraged to contact Event Coordinator Carol Beecher at saltwatereventsri@gmail.com or 360-927-8555.  A limited number of crew slots to sail onboard the 12-meter Nefertiti during the event are also still available.