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Ian Proctor centenary celebrated today

by Dougal Henshall 12 Jul 2018 09:00 BST 12 July 2018
Ian Proctor (born 1918) © Proctor Family

As the scorching sun continues to drive a bumper summer of sailing events, it is fitting that today, the 12th July, that we celebrate the centenary of the birth of one of the great architects of our sport.

Here at YachtsandYachting.com we featured the life and times of Ian Proctor earlier in the year in the article The man who designed racehorses but we were aware that this only scratched the surface of the incredible range of achievements that Ian accomplished in his life. A lifelong innovator who gave us the commercially-viable metal mast, not to mention cleated centre mainsheets (because illness really did leave him sailing single-handed!), self-bailers and so much more.

He was also a fierce competitor and with life-long friend, collaborator, work colleague and crew Cliff Norbury, Ian would leave his name on some of our most coveted silverware.

But in all probability, if we could ask him now, his first and greatest love was that of the beauty of successful design. We treat it as a cliché that "if it looks right then it will probably be right" but making it look right and perform well, from a simple fitting up through to whole boats - that range from the Topper to the Olympic Tempest - merging form and function together was at the heart of all he did.

As well as driving the expansion behind the golden era in racing dinghies, Ian's designs would fuel the growth in accessible yachting, with small pocket-cruisers that would open up the enjoyment of our coasts to so many.

Enjoyment as a term is hard to define but it was at the heart of what Ian Proctor was about, be it that self-enjoyment that came from his work, his family and his own time afloat or that shared enjoyment that came from watching other people's happiness out on the water.

Today is truly a day we should celebrate, the Proctor Centenary, a day that would change the shape of our sport. Happy 100th birthday to the memory of Ian Proctor.

Don't forget the revised date for the Proctor Centenary Gala event will be the 1st and 2nd September, at Bosham Sailing Club: www.boshamsailingclub.com/dinghies/ian_proctor_centenary

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