My father, Jim Morris, wrote in his postscript section of PROJECT CHEERS, “I am quite confident that what the project team has experienced will, for us, not be repeated.” Dad spoke too soon, as four years later in 1972, Follett, Morris and Newick entered THREE CHEERS, a 46’ trimaran, in the OSTAR race. Tom finished in 5th place. Just like some other “sports,” participation in the OSTAR can be a very additive experience. The OSTAR has played a major role in all the lives of the Follett, Morris and Newick families. After the 1968 and 1972 races, the Follett, Morris and Newick families remained close friends. They did go on to do various other sailing related things. For Dick, numerous race contenders sought out his designs of proas and trimarans for the singlehanded races. In 1980, Phil Weld won overall first place in the OSTAR with MOXIE, a trimaran design by Dick.
After the 1972 race, Tom continued to do private sailing and professional yacht deliveries. He never did another trans-ocean race. Eventually, Tom paid fifty dollars for an unlimited Panamanian Master’s license to the consul in New Orleans. When the clerk came to ‘tonnage’ on the form, he figured that since he’d already paid for an unlimited license, it wouldn’t cost any more. He had the clerk fill in the tonnage blank with “unlimited.” Tom took his newly- issued unlimited masters license and skippered a small refrigerated freighter going south from Georgia with explosives and returning with frozen orange juice concentrate from South America. He did this for a number of years. Eventually he and Priscilla decided to settle ashore in 1987, when they bought a home in Orange City, Florida. Tom died of a sudden aneurysm of an artery on February 15th, 1990. He was six days short of his 72nd birthday. Tom and Priscilla had been married for 47 years.
Tom received two trophies for his third place in the 1968 race. The first one was from the Royal Western Yacht Club for third place in the overall race. The second was the Ida Lewis Yacht Club Trophy, for the first American yacht to finish the race. He would win this trophy again with THREE CHEERS in 1972. In addition to the race trophies for
CHEERS, came an honor from the Amateur Yacht Research Society (AYRS) for the most innovative yacht design of the decade. This award truly recognized how innovative and revolutionary Dick’s design of CHEERS was. For Dick this had to be one of the highest accolades for his design work.
The only commercial benefit that Tom received other than from this book, PROJECT CHEERS, was from a Bulova watch TV ad. With cameras rolling he was sprayed with water to simulate a nasty North Atlantic storm and a model of CHEERS fought her way through huge waves. There is no count of how many watches this ad sold.
Dick and Tom’s accomplishments with the proa design concept have often been overlooked by the mainstream yachting media. CHEERS finished the race in 27 days, 20 minutes. Comparing CHEERS’s overall finish time she would have still been competitive even in the 1976 race. That alone says a lot for Dick’s design work, and Tom’s seamanship.
My family continued to be involved with the Follett’s and Newick’s after the 1972 race. As I got closer to graduation from high school in 1976, Mom and Dad started downsizing their lives. They sold their home in Denver, packed up their VW Superbug and headed to California in the fall of 1976. There they built a 38’ cutter monohull, named CHEERS OF DENVER. They began “living aboard” in 1977, in Oxnard California. Eventually they had the boat trucked across the country and began to cruise the east coast, out of Newport RI. After several years of living- aboard, they moved back to Denver. They moved into a small townhome that allowed them to just close the door and go traveling. Most of their travels involved ships, riverboats and the Hawaiian Islands. They enjoyed numerous freighter trips, including a trip around the world and cruises to Antarctica and Spitzbergen. Jim died on December 23, 1992 from colon/liver cancer. Tootie died July 5th, 2012 from kidney failure. The CHEERS and THREE CHEERS projects were major highlights of their very full lives.
When Tom sailed CHEERS home to St. Croix, there were no plans for her future. CHEERS was really too small and too difficult to sail as a daily charter boat or as a family cruising yacht. Eventually, CHEERS was donated to the St. Croix Historical Society. But, they really were unable to properly display or care for her. An offer from the Exeter Maritime Museum, in Exeter England to display CHEERS was accepted. Once again CHEERS crossed the Atlantic, but this time on the deck of a freighter.
Eventually, the Exeter Maritime Museum fell on hard times. All of the boats had to find new homes. A French couple was able to secure CHEERS a new home, and they had her moved to France. There is an interesting on-line video of CHEERS being overhauled and relaunched. Here is the link to the video with Dick Newick attending the relaunch and CHEERS sailing in France.
Having CHEERS still sailing is a fitting tribute to Dick, Tom and Jim.