The 2018 America's Cup Hall of Fame honored Syd Fischer, John Marshall, Ken McAlpine and Doug Peterson (dec.) at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK on the evening of August 31st.
Australia’s Syd Fischer stands among Sir Thomas Lipton and Patrizio Bertelli, as the only yachtsmen to have mounted five self-funded challenges for the America’s Cup in the event’s 166-year history.
Now aged 91, Fischer is also noted for launching the America’s Cup careers of some of today’s most famous Australian yachtsmen, in particular Jimmy Spithill, Iain Murray and Hugh Treharne, who was tactician aboard the 1983 Cup winner, AUSTRALIA II.
Fischer entered the America’s Cup arena in 1983 with his challenge contender, Advance. Then, for the Cup defense in Fremantle in 1986-87, he campaigned the whimsically named STEAK'N'KIDNEY (rhyming slang for his home city, Sydney). In 1992, it was CHALLENGE AUSTRALIA; in 1995, Sydney ’95, and, in 2000, YOUNG AUSTRALIA, with Spithill at the helm.
Fischer, who on many occasions sailed aboard his Cup yachts, also took a direct interest in the administration of the America’s Cup as a member of the Challenger of Record Committee.
Outside of the America’s Cup, Syd Fischer is recognized as Australia’s most successful offshore sailor. He has claimed victory in two of the world’s major ocean racing events – the Sydney Hobart and the Fastnet race, won the One Ton Cup world championship and led six Australian campaigns for the Admiral’s Cup in England.
His achievements in yachting have earned him the prestigious Order of the British Empire medal, induction into the New South Wales Sports Hall of Fame and he has twice been named Australia’s Yachtsman of the Year.
John Knox Marshall
John Marshall exemplifies the elite level sailor who uses a brilliant technical mind to make boats go faster. His remarkable ability to blend the art and science of sailing helped him win the America’s Cup three times—once as a sailor, and, twice, as leader of Dennis Conner’s design/technology team. Conner remarked that Marshall “is the guy who talks the languages of both the eggheads and the jocks.”
Marshall competed in nine Cup campaigns, for the first five as a crew member starting in 1974 aboard INTREPID. In 1980 he had his first Cup win as FREEDOM’s mainsail trimmer. His greatest victory, however, was in 1987 as design coordinator for the STARS & STRIPES campaign in Australia where he brought together aerospace technology and skilled yacht designers. In 1988, he earned his third Cup victory managing design for the wing-sailed STARS & STRIPES catamaran. He also played a major role in the Cup’s IACC era, chairing a five-nation panel to write the new rule, used from 1992 to 2007, and later forming a research partnership to provide IACC baseline data to U.S. defense teams. After 1992, Marshall founded the YOUNG AMERICA syndicate which competed with distinction in the 1995 and 2000 events.
Marshall was always versatile, he could always find ways to make a dinghy, keel boat or ocean racer go faster. A collegiate champion, he went on to win North American Championships in the 5o5 and Enterprise. These wins and his success in 5.5 Meters earned him a berth on the 1968 US Olympic Team as an alternate. There he helped Lowell North test sails on his way to winning gold in the Star. At the 1972 Olympics Marshall won his own medal, a bronze in the Dragon Class. Racing extensively offshore as well, he won the Two Ton and Maxi World Championships as tactician/sail trimmer and crewed in numerous winning Admiral’s Cup, SORC and Sardinia Cup teams. Marshall specialized in molecular genetics in college earning his A.B. from Harvard in 1963 and doing gene research at the Rockefeller Institute. He studied mathematics and fluid dynamics at the Stevens Institute of Technology to help understand the science of sail boats. His broad technical education was a major asset as he spent most of his career overseeing projects that advanced sail, foil and hull design. Marshall joined North Sails in 1969, and for the next 23 years worked there. As its Director of R&D and as President/CEO he oversaw advances in sail design, advanced materials and construction, areas he later championed as a member of North’s board.
Ken McAlpine has been at the heart of the competition for the America’s Cup for over 30 years, witnessing the America’s Cup evolve from the 12-Metre Class through the America’s Cup Class to the foiling catamarans of the 35th America’s Cup Match. During this period, he measured more America’s Cup yachts than any other person in the history of the Cup. In this role, he demonstrated an intimate knowledge of the class rules; and, he also assisted in the development of the 12-Metre Class rule and the America’s Cup Class rule.
McAlpine’s love for the sea developed during his childhood in Sydney, Australia, and so it was natural that he went on to train as a naval architect. His involvement with the America’s Cup began in the seventies, and in 1983, on behalf of the Australian Yachting Federation, he was appointed measurer for AUSTRALIA II and CHALLENGE 12. Following the success of AUSTRALIA II, McAlpine was appointed a member of the Measurement Committee for the Cup’s defense in Fremantle, Australia.
McAlpine has lived in a world of secrecy and discretion: he was often the first to learn about loopholes found by design teams and was often faced with the extraordinary pressure to safeguard the deepest secrets of Cup yacht designs. He has ruled on complex technical matters such as AUSTRALIA II’s winged keel and Team New Zealand’s “Hula” hull. Few people realize what it means to deal with the brightest minds in the sport lead by the wealthiest men on earth who, each in their own way, are experts in exerting pressure to have matters swing their way.
During his long America’s Cup tenure, Ken McAlpine has used his naval architectural and engineering skills, along with tact, patience, and interpersonal skills to deliver a playing field as level as possible within the confines of the sport. His dedication and integrity in performing these tasks had a profound peacekeeping and stabilizing influence in the ever-growing complexity of the technology-driven competition for the America’s Cup.
Doug Peterson (1945-2017)
Doug Peterson, a two-time winner of the America's Cup, was a member of the design teams for AMERICA3 (winner in 1992), Team New Zealand (winner in 1995), and Luna Rossa Challenge (2000 and 2003). Peterson's brilliant understanding of the art of yacht design and a strong grasp of measurement rules made him one of the best naval architects of his generation.
“He had a huge talent for designing a boat that can go through waves—any kind of waves. Plus, his knowledge of yachting was second to none,” declared former colleague, David Egan.
Peterson’s talent is best exemplified by his work as a lead designer of Team New Zealand's BLACK MAGIC (NZL-32), one of the most dominant yachts in America's Cup history. BLACK MAGIC's boat-speed, estimated to be about three and half minutes faster on the Cup course than the American defender, helped Team New Zealand deliver a 5-0 victory in the 1995 match. Including the match, Team New Zealand achieved an incredible 42-1 record with an average margin of victory of 3:06. BLACK MAGIC's advantage in speed was due in part to Peterson’s decision to design her with a narrow beam and a mast positioned further aft than her conventional counterparts, establishing a new paradigm in America’s Cup Class yacht design. Peterson further attributed the success of the boat to using a total approach to design: “We started on a path with the hull, but then interconnected other components like mast and sails, always looking at it as a whole. That is our strength.”
In addition to his success in the America's Cup, Peterson is also well known for dominating the IOR offshore racing scene in the 70's and 80's and for designing scores of fast, popular and successful one-off and production racing and cruising boats. He was a self-taught naval architect whose influences included his father—an aerospace engineer—and yacht designer Wendell “Skip” Calkins. Peterson reflects, “I started putting boats down on paper when I was 10, and have never wanted to do anything else.”
The America's Cup Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to yachting's most distinguished competition.
The 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.
Nearly 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 persons intimate with the history and traditions of America's Cup and committed to the integrity of the Hall of Fame.
The museum of the Hall of Fame is located on the grounds of the former Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Rhode Island, where yachts were built for eight consecutive America's Cup defenses between 1893 and 1934. Its collection include plaques honoring the inductees; half-hull models of challengers and defenders; artifacts including spars, steering wheels, and tank test model hulls; and special exhibits about the America's Cup