Introduction of 1976 Dinghy Sailing Team, presented by Varney Hintlian, Class of 1972, Trustee Emeritus and former Chair of the Tufts Athletics Board of Advisors and Ken Legler, Tufts Head Sailing Coach
The Tufts sailing program has won its share of national championships over the years. But where did that history begin? How did a comparably small university like Tufts develop into a national sailing power?
Well, please allow me to give you a very brief history lesson. The sailing program at Tufts began as a recreational sport in 1937. Student interest in the sport grew over the years, and in 1952, Tufts built a sailing facility on the Upper Mystic Lake in Medford. In the late 1960s, under the guidance of Professor David Higginbothan, the sailing program began to take competitive racing more seriously – and in 1967, Professor Higginbothan made a great decision. He hired a man named Joe Duplin to serve as head coach of the Jumbo sailing team. The hiring of Coach Duplin, who was a 1963 world champion in the Star class and a national figure in sailing, provided instant credibility to Tufts on the national sailing scene.
As Coach Duplin built his program, Tufts started to become a destination school for many of the nation’s top collegiate sailing prospects. And in 1975, the sailors in the Brown & Blue really began to make their presence felt on the national stage – Coach Duplin’s Jumbos finished in second place at the 1975 Dinghy National Championship, just one point out of first place.
With the pain of that very near miss written indelibly in their minds, the Jumbos were determined to bring the national championship trophy to Medford the following season – and that’s exactly what they did. Racing at the Merchant Marine Academy, Coach Duplin’s Jumbos overtook the Webb Institute in the last two races to win the 15-team North American Dinghy Championship. With 163 points, Tufts edged Webb by three points and Yale by five to earn the coveted Henry B. Morss Trophy.
In that same 1976 season, Tufts also won the Leonard Fowle Trophy recognizing the best overall performance at the national championship regattas. Six Jumbos received All-American honors that season, including Sam Altreuter, Neal Fowler, Laurie Gabriel, Jamie McCreary, Cindy Palladino and Ted Scott. Jamie McCreary was the national single-handed champion that year, and Sam Altreuter won the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy of sailing when he was named the national College Sailor of the Year.
Thanks to the hard work of this impressive group of Jumbos, the inaugural 1976 national championship was just the first of 25 national sailing championships to be won by the Jumbos across multiple sailing disciplines in the years ahead.
“We are the Notre Dame of college sailing,” Coach Joe Duplin said at the time. “Year in and year out Tufts has been very successful, with the 1976 dinghy champions solidifying our position as the number one college sailing team in the nation”
We’re thrilled to have 11 of the 14 members of the 1976 team here with us tonight. Please welcome to the stage the 1976 national champion Tufts Dinghy Sailing Team!