Hall of Famer - Tom Linton
Tom Linton learned to sail in Snipes and Lightnings at summer camp in the '40s, but didn't sail again until he moved to the Detroit area in 1967 at the age of 32. It was then he met Dr. Ron Goldman who took Linton for a ride on a Shark Catamaran (at that time the biggest class of cats in the U.S.). "I fell in love with the boat and bought one the following year," Linton said.
After sailing locally for a year, he attempted the Nationals held at Sandusky, Ohio finishing well back in the pack of 38 boats that attended. In 1970, Linton crewed with topnotch Shark sailor, Ed Craft, at the Midwinter Nationals in Miami, Florida and won his first trophy.
Linton remembers, "A feature of that Midwinters was a guy from California who brought a cute little 14-foot beach cat. It was Hobie Alter with his new Hobie 14."
Things improved in his racing career after he bought a new wood-deck Shark from Gibbs Boats of Michigan. With that boat he won the Midwest Multihull Association Championships at Burlington, Ontario in 1972. Then went on to win his first Nationals at Put-in-Bay, Ohio in 1973.
Over his 31-year career of Shark racing, he has won eight Nationals' titles as skipper, and one title as a crew. He also placed second four times, and third two times.
Amazingly, Linton keeps coming back to the Shark no matter what boats he is currently interested in. As a result he is the only sailor to win the Shark Nationals in each of the last three decades. He was the only one to win all three major championships in one year - it was 1976 when he won the Midwinter Nationals, the Nationals, and the Schenley Cup for North American Championships.
Linton said, "If I had to pick any Nationals win above the others, it would be the 1997 Shark Nationals." He had sold his boat after winning the 1990 Nationals and felt he'd had enough. Then, word got out that there was a vintage 1965 English-built Shark available in North Carolina. It took a couple of years to restore it, but by 1997 he felt it was ready to go. He asked another previous 5-time Shark National Champ, John Sherry, to sail with him at the Newport News, Virginia event. In an excerpt from Catamaran Sailor Magazine in October of 1997, they said, "The Linton/Sherry Team won in convincing fashion with two bullets on the last day as the wind diminished." The old-timers did it again.
In the early 1980s, Linton bought a MacGregor 36 catamaran to race in Michigan, but work took him to Annapolis where he then raced it on the Chesapeake. He soon discovered the Condor 40 Trimaran that was built in Annapolis, bought one and began racing it and raced it very well. He went on to take first place in the 1990 Maryland Governor's Cup Race, second place in the 1987 Round Long Island Regatta, first in the CBYRA season High Point Championship, second place in the 1988 Condor Race - Annapolis to Newport, RI. He has also successfully campaigned such boats as Tornado, Dragonfly Trimaran, and Corsair F-27 Trimaran.
Linton worked hard to keep the Midwest Multihull Association alive and well in the late '60s and early '70s. He served as Fleet Captain and Newsletter Editor of the Michigan Shark Fleet, and as Commodore of the Viking Multihull Club in Michigan.
In 1973 at Put-in-Bay, Ohio Linton was elected President of American Shark Association
and held that office until 1977. After moving to Maryland he served as Fleet Captain, Treasurer, and Commodore
of the CCMA (Chesapeake Cruising Multihull Association). He was instrumental in getting CCMA as a member club
in CBYRA (Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association). He twice served on the Board of Directors of CBYRA.
It was during the 1986 Round-the-Delmarva Peninsula Great Ocean Race, a 365 mile race over Memorial Day Weekend, while sailing his 25-foot Dragonfly Trimaran Magic Hempel that they spotted something in the water. They were 23-miles offshore and in the lead of this tough race, when the crew took a closer look through their binoculars. At first they thought it might be a whale, but they quickly discerned it was a man waving. The man in question was Tom Dower, aged 68, of Newfoundland who was standing on the remains of a 33-ketch in only his long underwear. His boat had been run down and sliced in half by a trawler under a full moon in a calm sea at about 1 AM. The trawler kept on going, leaving Dower to die. Dower, who had been sleeping in the aft section had to swim out of it because it was sinking. He clung to the floating forward section.
Linton and crew abandoned the race and rescued Dower. Dower said, "Thank God for sailors!" For his efforts, Linton was given a citation by the city of Annapolis in recognition of the rescue. Linton said, "After all the races - win or lose in a 30-plus-year career of racing - I'd have to say this was my proudest moment. To have the opportunity to save a life, and to do so effectively, is more important than winning any race.
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