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Bill Wells

Hall of Famer - Bill Wells

Bill Wells, now at 88 years old, was one of the first to ever sail a catamaran in America. Anybody in the East, Midwest or South U.S. knows the name.

He was a monohull sailor most of his life. Bill was nearly invincible in sailing a Seagull, and International 21 or a Lightning. His daughter Mary said, "It didn't matter what boat he got into, he won!"

Having been an avid sailor all his life, he taught his two young daughters to sail. They also attended summer sailing/swimming camps at their local sailing club, the Mentor Harbor Yachting Club in Mentor, Ohio. Being young and looking for speed, they kept begging Bill for a Thistle (the fastest club boats around at the time). That was until a cat came along.

Designer Rod MacAlpine Downey and Builder Reg White came over from England with a Thai Cat and a Shark to do a demonstration tour around the U.S. They hit as many yacht clubs as they could that summer -- Mentor Harbor Yacht Club was one of them. It was then the two girls were given demonstration rides. They rushed home to tell their father how wonderful these new boats were and they wanted one - no more Thistle talk.

While most people at the sailing club were skeptical of these new-fangled contraptions -- they couldn't tack, couldn't point, too bulky, too heavy, etc. -- Bill bought a Shark Catamaran on the spot. Due to his presence in the sport, within a year the Shark Class was the largest class in the club, and then nearby clubs sprang up with fleets, and by the mid-60s this class flourished, turning out over 40 boats at most regattas.

And on the top of the heap was none other than Bill Wells crewing for one or the other of his daughters - and they won nearly every race they entered. His expertise at sail trim and boat balance was only outdone by his tactical abilities. And the girls were both excellent drivers. Bill never kept things to himself - he was always the first one to offer suggestions to his competitors on how to improve.

They won the Schenley Cup (North American Championships) and the Nationals just before Bill retired from sailing. But, even though retired he is still constantly around all the big events and still analyzing and asking questions why a certain boat is faster than another, or a given sail is better than the other. And, if you listen carefully, his questions will also give you answers. Take heed.

Bill now resides in Key Largo, Florida where he plays tennis two hours a day, and rides his bicycle everywhere. To keep himself busy he does all the yard work at the motel his daughter, Mary Wells, and son-in-law, Rick White, own and operate called Rick's Place Sailing Resort Motel..

Bill Wells and daughter Mary.

Catamaran Sailor
P.O. Box 2060, Key Largo, FL 33037
TEL 305-451-3287  FAX 30-453-0255

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