OBITUARY : Beecher Moore

Beecher Moore was one of the backbones of racing dinghy development in this country and a respected influence on the international sailing scene for over half a century.

His great contribution to the sport was in realising what the public wanted. He was the marketing man behind Jack Holt, the designer of an estimated 220,000 sailing dinghies that enabled the popular expansion of boating from an exclusive pastime to a sport widely available to the masses.

Born in 1908 in Rochester in New York State, Moore moved to Britain before his first birthday. Following an education on both sides of the Atlantic he first studied Geology at Harvard University, supporting himself for a year of his time as a waiter. The academic life did not suit him and somewhat reluctantly, as he considered business to be a dirty word, he joined his father in Britain in the family company, Moore's Modern Methods, producer of a widely used accounting records system. This remained his primary business interest for many years.

Moore's father believed that it was important for the boss to be the first to arrive in the morning as this set an example to other employees. He felt too that it was then acceptable for him to leave after lunch with a clear conscience and enjoy the afternoon pursuing his own interests. Beecher Moore, following his father's lead, devoted his afternoons to sailing.

From the early 1930s sailing became a dominant interest in Moore's life. Before the Second World War he was involved in what is acknowledged as the first trapeze used in a sailing dinghy - in the form of a bell rope on a Thames Rater. This so impressed Sir Peter Scott, who occasionally sailed with Moore, that he later adapted the idea for his own International Fourteen, adding a belt to provide better comfort for the crew.

The invention was an immediate success and Scott won the Prince of Wales Cup in 1938. Moore's invention gave the users such an advantage over the rest of the fleet that the device was banned. He also experimented with the use of sliding seats to provide righting moment, having first encountered them in Uffa Fox's cruising canoe, Brynhild.

Moore joined the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club at Burnham-on-Crouch in Essex and sailed in a number of J-Class yachts including Sir Richard Fairey's Shamrock and Sir Thomas Sopwith's Endeavour. He was part of the crew of Endeavour I in the America's Cup challenge of 1934 when he was, uniquely, the only American to sail aboard the British challenger.

After the war, Moore joined forces with the Thames boatbuilder Jack Holt, as his sailing companion and business partner. Holt was a seat-of-the- pants practical boatbuilder, sailor and designer. Together they were instrumental in the development and launching of many classes that were responsible for the growth and leadership in dinghy design enjoyed by Britain for many years.

First, in 1946, the 14ft Merlin class was introduced. Holt and Moore together went on to win the class national championship. This was followed during the next 20 years by the introduction of many popular dinghy classes including the Hornet, GP Fourteen, Enterprise and Mirror. While Holt designed the boats and built the prototypes, Moore, in the background, was responsible for the all-important marketing and development of each class; and the association of owners who in turn helped promote the design and ensure its continued support and success.

Moore expanded the Jack Holt business to take in fittings, clothing, sailmaking and mastmaking; all succeeded and weathered the many storms that have beset the boatbuilding industry over the past 50 years. The original company is still active in south-west London under the direction of Moore's son, Chadwick.

In his time Moore won the 12ft National Championship twice and the class premier trophy, the Burton Cup, once; he won the Merlin championship once as helmsman and four times as crew, the 12 square metre Sharpie National Championship; and was four times Hornet world champion. He was senior vice-president of the International 470 class, and a vice-president of the Amateur Yacht Research Society.

Over the years he was heavily involved in the administration of sailing at both national and international level. Moore served on many Royal Yachting Association and International Yacht Racing Union committees. He was chairman of the Committee for the Weymouth Speed Sailing Week; Commodore of the International Tempest class; and an early advocate for international women's sailing. He was a founder member of the Guild of Yachting Writers; its successor, the Yachting Journalists' Association, made him an honorary life member.

Apart from his interest in sailing Moore lived life to the full in many other pursuits. He loved good wine, art and literature. In his heyday, even before the Swinging Sixties, he had a wide reputation as a larger- than-life party giver and goer. For many years he was a partner in the restaurant Parkes, in Beauchamp Place, London. From 1940 his main residence was a flat in a building full of barristers' chambers in the Middle Temple. Having been an Air Raid Warden in the area, he had been able to secure a lease when chambers were easily available during the war and remained a resident there, much to the despair of some stalwarts of the legal profession.

Despite spending most of his life in Britain Moore remained an American citizen and declined an invitation to represent the United Kingdom in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, as this would have meant renouncing American nationality and taking a British passport.

Peter Cook

Beecher Moore, yachtsman: born Rochester, New York 16 September 1908; married 1954 Bobbie Seal (died 1971; one son), 1972 Naona Lanier (one stepson, two stepdaughters); died London 10 November 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Sales Consultant - OTE £45,000

£15000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want to work for an exci...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food