Saturday, October 31, 2015

Miami Yacht Club, Florida - Late 1940's

History is marked by "flowering" time periods, a confluence of time, location and people that melds in a dynamism that creates something interesting and different. (Some of these periods have enormous influence on world history, Paris in the 19th century springs to mind; a center of radicalism in mid-century, a center of frenetic artistic bounty in the late century.)  Such was the case with small boat sailing out of Miami during the post-WWII years. A combination of professional builders and amateur tinkerers pushed the development of three small boat classes, two of them local. However, in this history, the two local Miami classes, the Suicide and the Cricket, "flowered" and then disappeared, their effect negligible on the later history of small boat sailing . The long, lean, Suicide dinghy with the wishbone rig was the fastest sailing class in the U.S immediately after WWII. The Cricket was an all-out racing cat-boat with a wishbone rig and a sliding seat. (The Mothboat was the third class - what we call the Classic Moth today.) Miami Yacht Club on the causeway was the focal point for racing these unique craft.

In search of more archival material on the Suicide and Cricket class in Miami, I turned to George A of Mid-Atlantic Musings. George has a vast collection of Mothboat historical material including the Miami period. Sure enough, George was able to produce the Walter Dietel album. Walter was a German immigrant who designed and built his own Mothboats and Suicides in Miami after WWII.

Photos from the album are featured below. Some of the photos are from the Miami Y.C and some, I think, are from the Coconut Grove Sailing Club.

A Cricket coming at the camera with a Suicide in the background.

Walter Dietel Album

A Cricket on a trailer with Mothboats launching.

Walter Dietel Album

A Cricket and a Suicide. I think this is the race committee boat that is throwing them a line. (See photo below.)

Walter Dietel Album

Three Crickets. This may be a start, or possibly a leeward rounding - hard to tell. You can definitely see the sliding seat in use on the leftmost Cricket.

Walter Dietel Album

Jerry Gwynn's champion Suicide Joker.
Walter Dietel Album

A Suicide kicking it up on a reach.

Walter Dietel Album

On the launching beach, a mixture of Suicides, Crickets, Mothboats and what looks to be a Whitman EZ-build chine decked canoe (International Canoe) with most likely Lou Whitman himself standing over it.

Walter Dietel Album

The peanut gallery, in rapt attention to the racing, consigned to a log on the beach, .

Walter Dietel Album

Walter Dietel, from whose photo album these images were taken, with his home-built, amateur designed Mothboat.

Walter Dietel Album


2 comments:

George A said...

If one clicks on the pix of the boats on the beach (photo nr 7--the one with the international canoe) one can see Dietel's semi-catamaran Moth Boat (wearing sail nr 151, which was actually the sail from a very early Moth called Black Diamond). Dietel's attempt at a Catamaran Moth had two bows but blended back into a monohull at the dagger board trunk. This style of construction predated a similar shaped Moth produced in Michigan by twenty years. Warren Bailey produced the first true catamaran Moth Boat, with two separate hulls joined by a bridge deck, in the early 1960s. After Bailey demonstrated the boat's potential, the IMCA voted to ban catamarans at the following year's AGM.

Tweezerman said...

Interesting George. Thanks for pointing out Walter's semi-catamaran Moth. Looks like Walter was playing around with the catamaran concept before Warren went the full Monty with it. Do you know how many Mothboats Walter built?