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.
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,
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
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.
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.