RIP Charley

veni vidi vici

Omne quod audimus est opinio, non res. Omnia videm
Charley Morgan has passed~~~~

RIP Charley ~~~~
Met him for the first time in August 1968 at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. I was sailing on a Morgan Yachts built Windmill at a Florida State Championship and several times over the years. Last time I chatted with him was at the SPYC where he came to share with Ron Holland when Ron was promoting his book.

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When I ran the St. Petersburg Sailing Center, St. Pete Yacht Club had a gathering for Charlie Morgan and Ted Irwin. I brought to the stage a very old jib that had a "Charles Morgan Sailmaker" tag. Sort of teared him up.
Charlie was once on my early morning radio show. He loved to tell stories. When it was time for a commercial break, he would keep on talking. When the show resumed, I had to fill in the story.
Oh, and he said his favorite boat that he designed was Rage.


Super Anarchist
Followed Charles Morgan since the summer of '66. Charles Morgan at the helm of HERITAGE the 12 Meter he designed and built for the 1970s America's Cup Challenger Trials. Heritage took 1st place in the 12 Meter Class, at the Leukemia Cup in Newport, RI the spring of 2014. Photos courtesy of 12 Meter Charters.






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Super Anarchist
Charley Morgan is the only person to ever single-handedly design, build, and skipper his own 12 Meter in the America’s Cup. Prior to and since Charley’s 1970 Cup attempt, all campaigns were made by large syndicates. He even sailed the boat on its own bottom from St. Petersburg, Florida to Newport, Rhode Island to compete in the 1970 America’s Cup Defender Trials.

Charley was born in Chicago in 1929 but grew up in Tampa. He was a boy when his uncle took him sailing on Lake Conway near a sleepy town called Orlando. At 10 he built his first sailboat out of discarded orange crates and sack cloth.

Professionally built sailboats were a rare sight during the World War II era in Tampa Bay. He never saw more than eight at once. Sometimes he got a loaner and sailed to St. Petersburg. At 19 his confident parents let him sail on a boat called the RED BIRD — to Havana.

Morgan attended the University of Tampa and took a job with Johnson sails. In 1952 he founded Morgan Racing Sails in Tampa, FL. While making sails Morgan met yacht designer George Luzier, who got him interested in designing boats. Morgan built the yacht BRISOTE and completed a St. Petersburg, Florida to Havana, Cuba race with Bruce Bidwell.

In 1957, Morgan, along with Charlie Hunt, designed and built BRISOTE, a 31 foot plywood yawl. After successfully appealing disqualification due to a lack of engine, he entered the Havana race and took second in BRISOYE's division. In 1960 Jack Powell commissioned Morgan to build the 40 foot centerboard fiberglass yawl PAPER TIGER. The famously successful PAPER TIGER won the SORC Southern Ocean Racing Conference in 1961 and 1962. Because of that triumph, his prior success building racing sails, and a newly developed relationship with legendary yacht designer Olin Stephens; Morgan Racing Sails received an order to build some sails in 1962 for the Stephens-designed Americas’s Cup defender Columbia.
Unable to find a builder to manufacture the Tiger Cub, a smaller version of PAPER TIGER, Morgan founded the Morgan Yacht Corporation in 1962. Early models included the Tiger Cub and fiberglass sloop Morgan 34. The Morgan Yachts line of boats quickly grew to a fleet of sizes from 22' to 54' Morgan Marauder. In 1968, Morgan sold his company, which increased his wealth substantially, but continued to design and help with the company.

In response to customer feedback while operating Morgan Yacht, Morgan designed the shallow draft Morgan Out Island 41. One of the most popular boats over 40 feet overall ever built. First built in 1971 the spacious boat became popular with charter companies, becoming "the standard charter boat. Morgan left Morgan Yachts in 1972.

Morgan found Heritage Yacht Corporation in 1975, producing trawlers and sailing yachts. He later worked for Chris-Craft, doing design work on their trawler line. He designed sailboats in the 60's for Columbia Yachts including the the Columbia 40 and Columbia 38 as well as other yacht builders and private clients. Later in the 70's till the early 90's, he also designed for other manufacturers including the Com-Pac 35 for Hutchins Yachts.

At HERITAGE's launching, one of the two cranes started to tip, causing some damage to HERITAGE. HERITAGE was repaired and relaunched. As I recall a hurricane hindered HERITAGE's delivery to Newport, but that wasn't going to stop Charley and HERITAGE from participating in the Defender Trials.

There were four 12 Meters competing for the America’s Cup defense in 1970: WEATHERLY (12 Meter US-17), INTREPID (12 Meter US-22), HERITAGE (12 Meter US-23), and VALIANT (12 Meter US-24). Heritage started the trials off well with a win over Weatherly but was later knocked out of the trials by Intrepid.

That summer INTREPID skippered by Bill Flicker was a wee bit quicker; but HERITAGE with Charley and crew had a strong following of supporters. I remember, though I was a fan of INTREPID and Bill Ficker; at the same time like a lot of sailors, were rooting for Charley and crew. But mostly we were rooting because of Charley; who had quite a burden designing, building, and skippering HERITAGE, which is an incredible undertaking.

However, this was not the end of her racing career. After her America’s Cup campaign HERITAGE was sold and converted into and ocean racer. Metal bunks, a galley, saloon, head, and engine were installed and a new racing era for HERITAGE began. HERITAGE campaigned in races throughout the East Coast and in the Great Lakes. During the 1980’s HERITAGE met up again with her old rival, Intrepid, on the Great Lakes and avenged her previous America’s Cup defeat. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Heritage dominated “big boat” racing winning many of the prestigious races in the northeast including consecutive wins of the Chicago to Mackinac race in 1983 and 1984.

In the late 1980’s HERITAGE left the Great Lakes and sailed south. On the way she stopped in Antigua and won Antigua Race Week for the second time. Next, HERITAGE sailed to Venezuela, then through the Panama Canal, and up to California.

In 1990, HERITAGE was purchased and brought back to New England. While back in New England, Heritage has remained a racing machine, dominating the New England and Newport racing circuit. She is a three time winner of Nantucket’s Opera House Cup, and was first to finish at OHC in 2010 and 2012. She is a two time winner of Figawi and wins races daily in Newport.

While Charley is one of the last living original pioneers of the fiberglass sailboat industry, his 1970 America’s Cup entrant, HERITAGE, is the last wooden 12 Meter yacht built for the United States. To this day, she maintains the bright hull and blue decks that she showed off in her 1970 duel with INTREPID and her storied and successful racing career. HERITAGE is now owned by 12 Meter Charters in Newport, Rhode Island.

The summer of 2014 Charles Morgan was invited up to sail HERITAGE in the Leukemia Cup in Newport. Charley was called on the phone, and told it was for a good cause, and he took care of the rest. He booked tickets for his artist wife, Maurine, and himself and it was a go. On a spectacular sunny breezy day, the plan executed perfectly. HERITAGE sparkled, the crew performed, and, at 44, HERITAGE placed first, beating her younger competitors.

HERITAGE's Specifications:
LOA – 63′
LWL – 50′
Beam – 12′ 6″
Draft – 10’8″
Displacement – 70,000 lbs
Sail Area – 1,785 square feet
Designer – Charley Morgan
Builder – Morgan Yachts, St. Petersburg, FL
Original Owner/Skipper – Charles Morgan
An excerpt from Jeff Klinkenberg's interview with Charley in 2014 -
''In 1956, Charley met Sally Crawford, who did all their marketing. Their marriage lasted until her death from cancer in 2001. In Europe he spent months grieving and looking at art masterpieces. Perhaps because he is Charley Morgan, he wondered about reinventing himself as an artist. After all, he had enjoying drawing as a kid.
He studied, took lessons from Tarpon Springs maestro Christopher Still, painted like a maniac. In 2006 he married Maurine, an artist who paints on one side of the Florida room while on the other side he works on a painting inspired by seeing a panther near the St. Johns River when he was a boy.
His bookshelf is lined with art books and volumes about sailing and design. He likes nothing more than discussing the engineering involved in boat building, using the word "theorem" or mentioning "the propagation of gravity waves" or puzzling over the "vorticity in trailing eddies" that slow otherwise fast sailboats." - Jeff Klinkenberg
The late sailing writer Red Marston wrote this elegant statement about Charley in the St. Petersburg Times more than a half-century ago. "Morgan is a vibrant young man who is so tense with ideas, thoughts, philosophies, ambitions and self-improvement projects that on a clear, quiet night you can almost hear him hum as though he were a human generator, which, indeed, he seems to be."

Charley Morgan's design, build and campaign in 1970 America's Cup Defender Series

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Glenn McCarthy

Super Anarchist
Elmhurst, IL
In 1974 I was at St. Petersburg YC, Heritage was tied to the dock, huge cutout holes in the deck for the grinders to see the sails. Not one lick of hardware on the boat, just a hull with 3' of water in it, and a toilet disconnected and tipped over underwater. As we were walking away, Don Wildman passes us on the dock. Yup, he's the one who bought it.

A month and a half later, we're on the way from Chicago to Michigan for the Star Class 4th District Winter meeting, when Heritage on a truck, comes around the bend on the Indiana Toll Road on its way to Sturgeon Bay, WI to Palmer Johnson to get fitted out. Quite an impressive load!


Sorry to see the end of an era with the passing of a great maestro. On the flip side, like any great artist, the legacy of his creations will be with us for quite some time.


Super Anarchist
Fair winds and following seas. Having sailed several of his boats over the years, I still think the 42 was the prettiest production boat he ever drew.

veni vidi vici

Omne quod audimus est opinio, non res. Omnia videm
He had some great MORC boats
Morgan 24
Morgan 27
Morgan 30
The 30 and 24 opened up cruising in the Bahamas to 1,000’s with the centerboard design and very affordable prices, quality build too.
The OI 41 made millions of dollars 💵 back in the day 😇😎🫣


Super Anarchist
Great Wet North
He was truly a giant in the world of sailing. His much maligned Out Island 41 was the start of the specialized charter boat industry.

All through the 70's & 80's it seemed that one or the other of his boats was always one of my objects of lust. I went down to San Francisco years ago to check out one of his 54's that was for sale. Thankfully I came to my senses before buying it but damn was it beautiful.