SAILING IN THE 70's

The decade of the 70's saw many changes for the Association and lots of fun times.


Some of the sadder changes came about when the original builder and designer of the boat, Ray Greene, sold out to a group of Chicago investors in 1973. By this time Greene's Toledo boat factory had produced some 5,000 boats including over 3,000 Rebels. Mr. Greene continued to supply parts as others took over the helm of the company. Unfortunately, within a short time the new owners were bankrupt.

RUSS GETS HIS BOAT MEASURED IN Harry Melling, president of Melling Tool Co., and a group of investors bought the rights to manufacture the Rebel in the mid 70's. Harry was a long time Rebel sailor and member of Clark Lake Yacht Club, Clarklake, MI.
In 1976, Jack Campbell, the 1973-74 National Rebel Class Association Commodore, became president of the company now called Rebel Industries, replacing Harry Melling. Another very active Rebel sailor, Don Robinson, also played an important role in developing Rebel Industries. Under Greene, the Mark I Standard was delivered 10 to 15 pounds under minimum so that a racing skipper could add the go fast blocks, cleats and gadgets as wanted while remaining as light as possible.

Dave Flanigan of Texas worked hard during these years to promote the National Rebel Class Association, especially to those who restricted their sailing to local races, and to those who used their Rebel only for family fun. Reasons he cited over and over again were the resale value of the boat, the ability to control boat design, and the strengthening of sailing skills and pride which resulted from the strong Rebel Association. Finally he stressed the regular receipt of the Rebel Rabble Association members. In 1972 Kay Emmons became editor of the REBEL RABBLE followed by Bob Gough in 1975. In 1977, Carol joined Bob in editing and publishing the RABBLE.

The 1974 National Championship Series was held in Springfield, IL. Motel 6 charged $6.95 and even the fancy Ramada, Holiday Inn, and Howard Johnson were only $13.50 to $14.50. This was the first Nationals to have a "split fleet." In this format, the fleet is split after three races so that the top sailors compete for the championship and the remainder sail for the "commodores" award. This gave relative novices a chance at a national-level trophy. A trophy was donated by Rebel Fleet #2 of Clarklake, MI to honor the visiting fleet with the most participants.


The National Champions in the 1970's were:
  • 1970 Jack Bartlett - Huron Portage Yacht Club Portage, MI
  • 1971 Elliott Hilsinger - Hueston Woods Boat Club, Oxford, OH
  • 1972 Carl Siemer - Kaiser Lake Boat Club, Greenville, OH
  • 1973 Elliott Hilsinger - Hueston Woods Boat Club, Oxford, OH
  • 1974 Ken Mowbray - Des Plaines Yacht Club, Des Plaines, IL
  • 1975 Bob Gough - Corinthian Sailing Club, Dallas, TX
  • 1976 Kelly Gough - 16 years old -Corinthian Sailing Club, Dallas, TX (the first time a father and son switched between skipper and crew winning back to back Nationals)
  • 1977 Ken Mowbray -Des Plaines Yacht Club, Des Plaines, IL
  • 1978 Steve Volkhardt - Grand Rapids Yacht Club, Grand Rapids, MI
  • 1979 Kelly Gough - Corinthian Yacht Club, Dallas,TX

    Dan Socha lead the leadership team as Commodore in 1970 followed by Russ Brandt, 1971, John Bureau, 1972, Jack Campbell, 1973, and Stan Krajewski in 1974. The year 1974 brought new distinctions to the Rebel. On March 19th, the Read Cup, competition between United States Navy crews and members of the British Royal Navy, was hosted at San Diego Naval Sailing Club. All contestants were sailing Rebels. Prince Charles was to have been a skipper for the British, but at the last minute was replaced, possibly due to the security risk posed by heavy fog on San Diego Bay.

    In 1977, the National Rebel Class Association celebrated it's silver anniversary. Don Musselman wrote an article for the Rabble giving some of the background: The Rebel Class sailboat has a unique claim to a place in history. It is generally accepted as the first production model of a fiberglass boat and is beyond any doubt the first sailboat to be mass produced of this material. During World War II, the shortage of quality woods and many metals ...pushed the infant plastics industry.... The Rebel (a name it had from its inception on the drawing board) was a new design and not one adapted from an existing wooden type. The parameters were not simple in that it had to be a relatively heavy boat to be safe in the treacherous Great Lakes, but it also had to be a good ghoster for the light airs.... The transom design, unique for the 40's, but now commonplace, and the 166 square feet of sail are factors in the performance. The deck was made of wood through 1954, and then in 1955 of fiberglass. Class rules were rigidly enforced.

    The Perrysburg Boat Club, Fleet #1, hosted the 25th anniversary Nationals on the Maumee River. Especially strong fleets came from the Great Lakes region, Texas, New York and New Jersey, plus Maryland and Virginia. Who were some of the sailing aficionados during that 25th anniversary year? We find Bob Gough in 4th, Steve Volkhardt in 6th, and Chris Fromme (Lud's son) in 7th. Having a wonderful time were sailors such as Ed Fromme and his daughter, Carol, Don Robinson, Ed and Nan Holcomb, Mark and Matt Musselman, Bobbe Herndon with Peasie Herndon (the junior winner), Emery and Ruth Freeman, all racing in the Championship Series.
    In the Commodore Series, these well known names appear -- Bennie Miller, Tim Hoover, John (Woody) Woodruff, Duane Slater, Cricket Herndon, Dave and Yvonne Flanigan, Dave Yunker, Water and Elfrieda Rieger, Jerry Craft, Lee Helphinstine, Clarence Metzger and many others.
    Association leadership depended on Commodores Bill Wofford, 1975, Bennie Miller Jr., 1976, Lee Helphinstine, 1977, and Ken Mowbray in 1978. In 1979 Don Musselman took the Association's helm with Rex (helped by Marie) Pierson working hard as Vice Commodore and Yvonne Flanigan as Secretary-treasurer. Rex, an active member of the association since 1961, was also Commodore of the Clark Lake Yacht Club and served on various committees. Lee Shaffer, a member of VISA (Virginia Inland Sailing Association) at Smith Mountain Lake, VA, bought a Rebel in the fall of '68. John Butzer, Grand Rapids MI, began sailing in 1976. In the mid 1970's these men and women were some of the leaders of the Rebel Family.

    The family atmosphere was evident in the entertainment at Nationals which featured such things as Kazoo bands, macho skippers dressed in drag and entertaining us with the can-can, Indian dances, wonderful cocktail parties, dunkings, and crazy pool parties. Along with the stunts, pranks, good natured jokes and entertaining, there were always Rebel sailors helping one another to sail better, safer and swifter. The Association continued to provide a strong base for owners of the Rebel around the country. Nan and Ed Holcomb, Mayfield Yacht Club, Mayfield, NY, edited the RABBLE in 1978 and 1979 succeeding Bob Gough of the Dallas Fleet. The REBEL RABBLE continued in its role of tying the members of the Association together.

    The 1970's finished with 20 active fleets scattered from New Jersey to Texas. These local fleets sail on lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. They travel to District regattas and for one week in July they participate in a regatta called the Rebel Nationals. The class brings along spouses, children, sisters and brothers and friends to share in the joy of sailing and in family social entertainment. By 1978, we saw an interesting Nationals. Of the 58 boats entered, 36 were sailed with a mixed crew, that is one male and one female, 21 boats were all male and one boat was all female. Of the 36 mixed crews, 25 or nearly half of all the teams were husband and wife pairs. The top 3 award winners in 1978 were husband and wife teams. There were 9 parents crewing with children, 3 children crewing with parents, and one brother and sister pair. Rebel families like to play together. Several families brought 2 or more boats so all members could be part of the fun.