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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee