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Flying Dutchman: trapeze-artist sailors

Willow Bank Yacht Club and Cazenovia Lake will be host the Central New York Sailing Association Annual Regatta the weekend of July 9 and 10. The event will bring participants from 30 sailing clubs across the state to partake in races.

In the preceding weeks, a series of articles about the various fleets that will be seen competing will be featured.

The Flying Dutchman is a 20-foot one design high-performance two-person monohull racing dinghy. Developed in the early 1950s, its large sail area per unit weight makes it a very fast boat.

The boat utilizes a trapeze harness for the crew and hiking straps for the skipper to counterbalance the wind force on its sails. Trials were held for the new boat class in the summer of 1952 in Holland, and the name of the design, Flying Dutchman, was born. It made its Olympic debut at the 1960 Olympics.

The Flying Dutchman was sailed in Olympic competitions from 1960 through 1992. In 1964 Harold Morse, Bill Diefendorf and James McNitt took their three Flying Dutchman sailboats from Willow Bank Yacht Club to the Olympic Trials; an unusually high quota of Flying Dutchman sailors from one sailing club.

Willow Bank Yacht Club raced a large and strong fleet of the watercraft and was named the Flying Dutchman Number Two Fleet in the USA. An annual regatta is held each year at Cazenovia, when out-of-town boats compete with the local fleet, for the Cuspidor Trophy, which was presented by Content Morse in 1962 and first won by R. W. Parsons. Harold and Content Morse imported the first Flying Dutchman to Cazenovia, from Germany.

The Flying Dutchman is still one of the fastest racing dinghies in the world. They have beautiful lines, carry a mainsail, a very large foresail known as a genoa, and a large balloon spinnaker sail for running downwind and reaches. Its light weight and large sail area allow it to plane easily even when sailing upwind.

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