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America's Cup: Three inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame

by Steven Tsuchiya, ACHoF, Sail-World NZ 21 Jan 02:12 GMT 21 January 2020
The Herreshoff Marine Museum loaned its 1/6th scale model of Reliance -America's Cup Hall of Fame Induction - November , 2019 - Yachting Heritage Centre, Flensburg, Germany © Katrin Storsberg

In mid-November, 2019, three luminaries of the America's Cup were inducted into the AC Hall of Fame in a black tie dinner at Robbe & Berking Yachting Heritage Center at Flensburg, Germany.

The Robbe & Berking Yachting Heritage Centre, founded by Oliver Berking, is currently home to a wonderful America's Cup history exhibit, with items on loan from the Herreshoff Museum, Elizabeth Meyer, William Collier, and many others.

Its adjoining boatyard, the Berking Classics yard, with Vim, Gretel, Kiwi Magic and eight other classic 12-Metre boats, added a special touch given the three inductees' association with the 12-Metre era.

"As with the best induction events, it was a meaningful reunion of participants and fans of the Cup; it was a treat to witness Bill Trenkle, Tom Whidden, Tom Schnackenberg, Grant Simmer, Ken McAlpine, Joop Slooff, Bruno Trouble, and Dyer Jones reminisce about the 12-Metre days", recalled Steven Tsuchiya, Chairman of the America's Cup Hall of fame Selection Committee.

The America's Cup Hall of Fame was founded in 1992, as an arm of the Herreshoff Marine Museum by Halsey Herreshoff, a four-time America's Cup defender and grandson of legendary yacht designer Nathanael G. Herreshoff. Over eighty legends of the Cup have been inducted into the Hall. Candidates eligible for consideration include members of the crew, designers, builders, syndicate leaders, supporters, chroniclers, and other individuals of merit. Each nominee is judged on the basis of outstanding ability, international recognition, character, performance, and contributions to the sport. The members of the Selection Committee are intimate with the history and traditions of America's Cup and committed to the integrity of the Hall of Fame.

The America's Cup Hall of Fame was founded in 1992 under the auspices of the Herreshoff Marine Museum by Halsey Herreshoff, a four-time America’s Cup defender and grandson of legendary yacht designer Nathanael Herreshoff.

For more on the America's Cup Hall of Fame click here

Citations from the America's Cup Hall of Fame for the three inductees:

William T. "Bill" Trenkle (USA) (b. 1958)

Bill Trenkle exemplifies what it takes to win the America’s Cup with integrity. He possesses superb sailing skills, engineering know-how, keen management acumen, and good character.

If one were to describe Bill Trenkle in one word, it would be “loyal.” He raced and worked with Dennis Conner in eight America’s Cup campaigns over a 24-year stretch from 1979 through 2003, winning the America’s Cup three times. During that period, Trenkle evolved from a “possible” crew as a Cadet at the State University of New York Maritime College (Class of 1980) into Conner’s longtime Director of Operations.

In his book, Comeback, Conner said, “Bill is a seaman in the finest sense of that term. He understands from both an academic and a practical standpoint what it takes to make a boat go. Give a job to Bill, any job, and you know that it will be done to perfection.” That is high praise from a demanding skipper. In the early days of his Cup career, Bill Trenkle was a sail trimmer, first on the tune-up boat, and then on the varsity team for the 1986-87 series in Fremantle. As the port tailer aboard the victorious Stars & Stripes ’87, Trenkle had an eye for fast sail shapes, possessed lightning re exes, and, most importantly, he could consistently anticipate what Conner would do at the helm. Conner recalled, “I never once had to say a word about sail trim.”

Using his degree in engineering from the Maritime College, Trenkle assisted in the project management of the construction of three 12 Metre yachts for the 1986-87 series. In 1988, he managed the construction of the Stars & Stripes catamaran with its complex and innovative “wing-sail”. Today, he is an accredited marine surveyor and marine engineer. And, since 1996, Trenkle has been President and Director of Operations of Dennis Conner Sports. No job was ever too big or too small for Bill Trenkle, earning an excellent reputation in the America’s Cup community.

Henry Racamier (France) (1912–2003)

Tall and elegant with a twinkle in his eye, French businessman Henry Racamier became part of America’s Cup history in 1982 the moment he agreed to sponsor the official ‘’Challenger Races for the America’s Cup’’ organized by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (the Challenger of Record) in Newport. Associating Louis Vuitton (LV) with the America’s Cup was a logical and clever decision: founded in 1854, LV was a contemporary of the Cup (first awarded in 1851). Soon after, in the summer of 1983, he presented the newly created Louis Vuitton Cup to the winners, John Bertrand and Alan Bond.

Over the following decade, as Racamier held the reins of Louis Vuitton, he remained passionately dedicated to the historical and cultural connections between LV and the America’s Cup. Many Cup competitors of the past, including Sir Thomas Lipton and Harold Vanderbilt, were clients of LV.

When the following America’s Cup began in Fremantle (1986-87 series), the Louis Vuitton Cup was established as a major sporting and media event in its own right. With Bruno Troublé as Racamier’s right-hand man, the Louis Vuitton Cup, managed by an able team, became a full-fledged organization within one of the sport’s marquee events.

Much of Henry Racamier’s previous professional life had not been spent at LV but rather as chairman and owner of a successful steel company. It was through his marriage to Odile Vuitton, great grand-daughter of the founder, Louis, that Henry became involved with the company, and upon the death of his father-in-law, Georges-Louis Vuitton in 1976, he joined LV as Executive Chairman at 65, an age when most decide to retire, bringing with him his dynamic and modern management style.

Soon after his arrival, Henry Racamier transformed Louis Vuitton from a prestigious but quiet 132-year-old artisanal family business with three shops into a leading global luxury brand listed on the Paris and New York stock exchanges. Under Racamier, revenue and profitability increased 25-fold in less than 10 years. In 1987, Racamier formed LVMH, merging the LV group (Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Veuve Clicquot, et al) with Moët-Hennessy.

When Henry Racamier left the chairmanship in 1992, the Louis Vuitton Cup was in full swing. Louis Vuitton continued to support the Challenger Races and the American’s Cup until 2017, the longest association for any brand with any event in the world of sports.

William H. Dyer Jones (USA) (b. 1946)

Dyer Jones' contribution to the America's Cup stretches from 1967, during the 12 Metre era in Newport, to the last appearance of the America's Cup Class in Valencia in 2007. Within that span, he played a crucial role at several important turning points in the history of the America's Cup. In 1967, Jones served as an occasional crew member aboard Columbia during the defender selection trials. Throughout the 1970s, he served on Auxiliary Committees of the New York Yacht Club’s America’s Cup Race Committee.

Jones achieved his first leadership role in the America’s Cup in 1983 when he served as Chairman of the NYYC’s Race Committee. He oversaw the AUSTRALIA II v. Liberty match at a time when the controversy over Australia II's winged keel threatened to derail the contest.

After the controversy and legal proceedings surrounding the New Zealand "Big Boat" challenge of 1988, Jones helped organize a Trustee's Committee to resolve future disputes without recourse to the New York courts. This committee has since become the America's Cup Arbitration Panel.

Given Jones’s experience in race management and as former Commodore of the New York Yacht Club (1991-92), he was selected to lead the Challengers’ Association for the 2000 match held in Auckland. For the following match there in 2003, Jones served as the Regatta Director for the Louis Vuitton Challenger Selection Series. On the strength of his qualifications, the new Swiss Defender and the Challenger of Record appointed Jones as the Regatta Director for the first America's Cup Regatta to be held in Europe, in Valencia, Spain, which included a new series of preliminary regattas held in four European venues.

Dyer Jones played an important part in the successes of the America's Cup regattas in Newport in 1983, in Auckland in 1999-2000 and 2002-2003, and in Europe in 2004-2007. In every America’s Cup role, he served with distinction and with a gentlemanly quiet—but firm confidence—that instilled trust and earned the respect of competitors and officials, even in the heat of tough competition.

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