The National Sailing Hall of Fame will be selecting a class of 10 new inductees over the next several weeks. No doubt there are many qualified sailors nominated. Making the selection of just 10 sailors from the hundreds who deserve such an honor is not easy. No doubt all 10 sailors that are inducted will be worthy. One wonders why only 10 people will be allowed into the Hall this year. It would seem in the early years it might make sense to induct 25 new members for the next few years simply because with more inductees there will be more interest in the Hall of Fame, and with that increased interest would come increased donations so the Hall could actually be built. You can read the nomination process here. Maybe we should lobby the Hall of Fame Board to increase the number of inductees each year.
It is hard to know exactly who has been nominated. It is also unclear what sort of lobbying goes on to get a candidate into the Hall. We all have favorites and no doubt many will be pushing for their favorites to get in. The Ed and I happen to have one favorite, Carl Eichenlaub, who was nominated this year. I know Carl has been nominated because several of Carl’s friends/Cadenza crew asked me to submit the nomination.
There are three categories for which a sailor can be nominated – accomplishment in sailing, technical, or service to the sport. Carl qualifies in all three. He won many regattas in a variety of dinghies, and sailed a series of “Cadenza’s” up and down the west coast. Technically, he built many racing winning boats in classes like the Snipe, Lightning, Star and other one-design classes. In big boats, his building of Doug Peterson’s “Ganbare” and what that did to the shape of IOR is legendary. Plenty of other great IOR boats too – “Forte” and “Swiftsure” come to mind, along with a host of others.
But the thing Carl is probably most noted for is his work with the US Sailing Team as the shipwright from 1976-2004. What many will remember of Carl is not all the help he gave US Sailors with their boats, which was often times significant, but it was the help he gave sailors from all countries during an Olympic of Pan Am regatta. Once his obligations to the US team were done for the day, Carl would help anyone who would ask. US Sailing recognized Carl’s contribution to the sport in 2000 by giving him the Herrshoff Trophy, which is the highest honor in the organization.
While Carl has thousands of friends literally around the world, for those who never have had the chance to meet to listen to the Will Rogers of sailing, here is a nice video of Carl talking about Snipes. This Sports Illustrated article from 1965 with a quote from National Sailing Hall of Fame member Lowell North that just has to be read. If you had ever been in Carl’s boatyard, you’ll instantly recognize what the author says about it, and smile knowing that somehow a winning boat came out of a place that was defined by its rather agricultural look.
Many of us think it would be great if Carl were inducted in the National Sailing Hall of Fame this year. But if he doesn’t make it this year, he’ll make it one day soon. In the mean time, add your stories of Carl here. – Peter Huston.