Skip to main content

Ted Williams or Ray Hunt? The choice was simple

Boys growing up in sailing-happy Marblehead, Mass., often followed meandering paths to maturity that led to a deep-water harbor with a half-dozen boatyards and a couple thousand boats hanging on moorings. Mark Kellogg was one of those youths in the 1950s and ’60s, lured dockside to what he considered a magical kingdom by the sea presided over by illustrious sailing royalty.

Image placeholder title

“Looking back on those wonderful years of my youth, I envied those world-famous designers, racing sailors and boatbuilders who had found such an agreeable way of making a living,” says Kellogg, 70, of Severna Park, Md., who was a mere wharf rat when this splendid gathering of yachts charmed him.

Though he was a great fan of baseball slugger Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, Kellogg’s real everyday heroes were legends of sail — John Alden, Ted Hood, L. Francis Herreshoff, Carl Alberg, Chandler Hovey, George O’Day, Aage Nielsen, Brad Noyes and Ray Hunt, to name a few of the famous salts who were regulars in Marblehead.

Kellogg laughs as he recalls his mother packing lunch and sending him off to the harbor with instructions to stay out of trouble and not return home until dinnertime. His favorite hangouts became boatyards operated by Ted Hood and James E. Graves, where at first he was looked upon as an intruder. But that did not discourage him, and he kept returning day after day. Eventually his persistence paid off, and he was given low-level assignments, such as running errands, pumping out boats and drying and folding sails.

During those long-ago summers he also started to collect nautical literature, boat-show brochures and line drawings connected with yacht designers, one of whom was C. Raymond Hunt. Kellogg’s little library began filling cardboard boxes and became the foundation for a longtime passion that continues to this day.

Mark Kellogg is gathering material for a biography of the legendary designer C. Raymond Hunt.

His interest in Hunt also led him to research the great man’s life. And for the past three years he has been interviewing family, friends and close business associates, assembling material for a biography of the legendary New England sailboat racer and designer. “Much has been written about Hunt, who died in 1978 at the age of 70, but oddly enough there has never been a biography,” he says. “I believe my book will fill a gap and fully reveal Hunt’s important role in America’s maritime history.” For more on Hunt, see Page 54.

A quiet gentleman who disdained publicity, Hunt had many successes but also experienced some disappointments, Kellogg notes. “He was a self-taught inventor gifted with genius who attended three prep schools but never graduated from any of them, as well as a racer who won 45 world, national and regional trophies,” he says. “But he is best known for his Concordia yawl, International 110 and the Boston Whaler. And his deep-vee hull revolutionized powerboat design, yet, strangely enough, he neglected to register a patent for it.”

Hunt did attempt to patent his deep-vee, but drawings of the hull appeared in The Skipper magazine, and he did not file within one year of publication, effectively killing the patent possibility.

As a boy, Kellogg was eager to crew for anyone like Hunt, who sailed out of Marblehead and came to know the youth who drove a launch to and from moored yachts. He worked for “Otie” Milmore, who ran the Marblehead Rental Boat Co. for 25 years, but was also an eager paid hand on two Concordias and volunteered as crew for anyone else looking for an able hand.

“I drove a 21-foot Huntform launch named Cabby as a nautical taxi,” he says. “And I taught sailing in rental Hunt-designed 110s and also won eight trophies racing my own 13.5-foot Blue Jay. For two summers, I taught sailing at the YMCA Day Camp on Children’s Island, where I became friends with the great surveyor ‘Giffy’ Full, a yacht captain who ran the launch to that island.”

Kellogg also was a longtime member of the Pleon Yacht Club, the oldest junior yacht club in America. “I rose through the ranks to become vice commodore in the club’s diamond jubilee year of 1962,” he says proudly. “It was a great training ground for teenagers like me who had been named club ‘leaders.’ ”

He prowled the harbor, watching yachts being built, launched, tested and raced, and he observed skilled craftsmen and painters plying their demanding trades. “I often saw Hunt in a varnished Hickman Sea Sled or testing his 210s,” says Kellogg. “But my greatest thrill came when I began to crew with Hunt in John Mooney’s Hunt-designed 5.5 Meter, Minotaur. Early on I was asked by Mooney to crew for him if his boat was selected to represent the U.S. in the 1960 Olympics in Naples [Italy]. I was so excited I ran home to tell my father, who said, ‘Forget sailing and get a real job.’ ”

Incidentally, George O’Day skippered the boat to Olympic gold in Naples while Kellogg remained grounded at home.

“Watching Hunt direct the tuning to his exacting specifications and feeling the boat’s reaction through the master’s fingers on the tiller was a magical experience,” he says. “At one point he requested that a jumper shroud be tightened by a half-turn on the starboard turnbuckle, and within a minute he detected a decided difference in performance.”

Another highlight of Kellogg’s youth was watching the building of the Hunt-designed 12 Meter Easterner at Graves’ yard. The varnished 66-footer became the unquestioned beauty queen of America’s Cup trials in Newport, R.I., as a contender in the 1958, ’62 and ’64 defenses. Yachtsman Chandler Hovey had commissioned the family-sailed Hunt design, and she was launched in June 1958, with Kellogg among the royals looking on from land and water. Easterner, however, was not a consistent performer and remained a trial horse.

These days, Kellogg visits Marblehead regularly on family business and makes time to interview key people in his research for the Hunt bio. His hometown harbor is now in Maryland at a community waterfront off the Severn River, from which he sails Cotillion, his 26-foot 1968 O’Day Outlaw designed by Phil Rhodes. His days are centered within a small room in his split-level dominated by tall bookcases filled with boating-related volumes, magazines and milk crates containing folders of notes and research material on Hunt.

A former research director and retail manager, Kellogg has a master’s degree in international studies from the University of South Carolina. Over the years, he produced research papers as a financial securities analyst and director of research in bank trust departments. Tiring of this business, he returned to his first love: sailing. He was a yacht broker and business manager for nearly 20 years in Annapolis.

“This Hunt biography, tentatively titled ‘Passion for Performance,’ is a labor of love,” says the unpublished writer. “The more I dig into Hunt’s life, personal and business records, the more I discover. I learned that Hunt designed a prototype destroyer for the U.S. Navy that was promoted by Fleet Adm. Ernest King as World War II neared an end … but that’s all I wish to reveal about that — at least for now.”

Jack Sherwood is writer at large for Soundings.

April 2013 issue