The 1955 U.S. A Class Championship Boat "Magic"



In 1955, after 10 years of studying the conditions at the Fleetwood site in England, the late Frank Stout of San Mateo CA designed and built an A Class boat named "Magic," optimized for the heavy air typical at Fleetwood. Frank's wife Jeanne acted as mate, and they won the U.S. Championship at the Berkeley pond, whose strong, constant winds made it a very similar venue to Fleetwood. Frank's employer, Ampex, sponsored his trip over to England. During practice there, "Magic" carried all before her. Alas, on race day, the wind died, and a light air boat took the coveted Yachting Monthly cup.

These pictures show the construction and sailing of "Magic" at the late, lamented Berkeley pond. The pictures were kindly lent to us by Jeanne Stout Burke, Frank's widow. They were originally in the form of color slides; we had toconvert them to black and white because they had faded. We feel very lucky to have these depictions of sailing in the 1950's, as there were few if any publications covering the sport at that time.

If you click on any of the pictures below you'll get a bigger image; all larger images are JPEGs of 20 to 40K or so.

Fred and Jeanne designing "Magic."

  

Pouring the keel and painting the hull.

  

Jeanne, Frank, and "Magic" by poolside at Berkeley.
[This was the pond where I fell in love with model yachting, and at about this time. It only took me 40 years to get seriously involved! So take heart -- dreams can come true.]

Consulting on the vane settings. Note the remarkably small feather, an indication of how well balanced the design was, and how optimized for strong winds.

A mate at work. Jeanne did a lot more than just hold the boat; we have movies of her turning with the pole on a lee shore, which requires strength, timing, and balance.

Sometimes you have to sacrifice your body for your boat. Frank catches "Magic" after a classic Berkeley event: a very fast run under spinnaker.
[This is a pond where 22 pound M boats planed regularly on the run, a sight that I will never forget.]