Project Cheers Book Review

In 1967, Dick Newick was intrigued by an idea for an unusual boat. Perhaps too unusual. The boat would be a modern “proa”, a complete reworking of the traditional Polynesian two-way sailing canoe into a modern single-handed offshore racing boat. But would it work? Could it be built? Convinced it could, he faced bigger questions. Who would sail it in a race across the Atlantic? Who would provide the funds for such an adventure?

How Dick found and convinced Tom Follet to sail and Jim Morris to act as financier is the beginning of the story. The 1968 OSTAR race was only 16 months away. If Team 68 (their temporarily adopted name) could build a modern ocean-going proa, shake it down, fix its problems and learn to sail it, they would face a still greater challenge. They would have to convince the Race Committee their craft was suitable to sail in the most dangerous sailing race on earth.

Team 68 did not have time for mistakes, but they went ahead and made them anyway, and learned and corrected, faster than most of us would take to get it wrong and leave it that way. How did they get it so right, so fast?

Fifty-three years later, I read this book in the midst of a heated debate over all things proa and over the propriety of single handed passage making. That same debate runs all through this book, but the answer is there, too. The debate is actually about all things not proa … the mistakes and misunderstandings that did not make the cut in the final design.

Cheers, the boat, and Project Cheers, the book, are all things proa … simple, elegant, economical, surprising, and above all inspiring. -John York
– – – – – –  –
 – John York was fortunate to witness the design, construction and testing of revolutionary boats from Dick Newick, Damian McLaughlin and Jerome Milgram, and to learn from and occasionally sail with OSTAR sailors in the 1970s and 80s. John currently coaches young sailors and presents hands-on programs for K-12 students on history, technology and boat building. When he is not on the water or teaching kids how to make sea salt, you can find him reading first person accounts of sailors, farmers and innovators.

John York and Russell Brown- Catoumet in 2010

Photos from the book-

Because the new edition of Project Cheers is not printed on gloss paper, the images lack luster. In this slide show, the images have greater clarity, (even one in color) and appear in the order they do in the book. Permission to reproduce the photos was granted by the copyright heirs, including for photos by Fritz Henle. See fritzhenle.com for more of his photographic legacy.

Plate 1:

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‘Cheers’ under construction: Bernard Rhodes stands by one of the incredibly slim hulls. Photo; Newick

Plate 2:

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‘Cheers’ aka being laminated. Spruce glued with resourcinal glue. Photo; Newick

Plate 3:

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‘Cheers’ under construction showing the 12mm ply bulkheads bracketing the centerboard trunk, mast, and ‘aka’. Note the 6 laminations in the ‘aka’ (left) Photo; Newick

Plate 4:

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Wallford Galloway, who did most of the building. Photo;Fritz Henle

Plate 5:

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Dick Newick makes some last minute adjustments to one of the masts prior to launching. Photo: Fritz Henle

Plate 6:

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The Launch. Photo: Fritz Henle

Plate 7:

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“Cheers!” (l to r) Pat Newick, Jim Morris, Tom Follett, Dick Newick, Tootie Morris, Dick Eames. Photo Fritz Henle

Plate 8:

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The team prepares ‘Cheers’ for an early sail. Photo; Fritz Henle

Plate 9:

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Capsize test carried out before sponson was fitted. In calm water Cheers floated with her masts horizontal. Photo; Newick

Plate 10:

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This shot of the same capsize test clearly shows how small her wetted surface is. Photo; Newick

Plate 11:

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Looking a bit pensive; Tom Follett prior to setting off on his first solo excursion. Photo Fritz Henle

Plate 12:

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Tom Follett leaving St. Croix on his first long solo trial. Note the absence of sponson and anti-dive plates. Photo; Newick

Plate 13:

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‘Cheers’ moving along at a fair clip during early trial off St. Croix. Photo; Fritz Henle

Plate14:

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‘Cheers’ on an early trial, showing foresail with an experimental sprit instead of a boom. Number 2 jib is set. Compare this picture with plate 19 which shows ‘Cheers’ with her sponson fitted. Photo; Newick

Plate 15:

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Another shot taken during early trials, showing large light weather foresail. Photo; Fritz Henle

Plate 16:

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This close-up taken during early trials, shows the cockpit layout and the netting very clearly.

Plate 17:

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‘Cheers’ showing her paces during trials before the anti-dive plates and sponson were fitted. Photo; Fritz Henle

Plate 18:

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Close-up of ‘Cheers’ in action during trials. Photo; Fritz Henle

Plate 19:

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A close fetch at high speed during trials. Photo; Fritz Henle

Plate 20:

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Sponson and anti-dive plates fitted. Photo; Newick

Plate 21:

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A close-up of one of the anti-dive plates. Photo; Fritz Henle

Plate 22:

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Tom Follett leaving Christiansted St Croix, Virgin Islands for England on 31st March, 1968. Photo; Fritz Henle

Plate 23:

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‘Cheers’ lying alongside her tender ‘Andiamo’ at Millbay Dock, Plymouth prior to the Transatlantic Race. Photo; Peter Wier

Plate 24:

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This shot shows the table opposite the berth. Photo; believed to be by Peter Wier

Plate 25:

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Tom Follett’s quarters for such long voyaging were cramped, to say the least. Here you see his bunk in the windward hull. Photo; Peter Wier

Plate 26:

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Home after the race. ‘Cheers’ looks just as spick and span as when she set off. Photo; Newick

Plate 27:

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The contestants in the 1968 Single-Handed Transatlantic Race. (photographer unknown)

Plate 28:

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‘Cheers’ racing with Newick’s third trimaran, the 36ft Trice, in some breeze. ‘Cheers’ is considerably faster under these conditions. Photo; Newick

The original cover image:

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This was the original cover photo for the book Project Cheers, published in 1969. It was taken by Dick Newick in St Croix, USVI. You can see Buck Island in the back ground.

….

Thank you to Halsted Morris who found the Henle album and had it digitized. Locating and digitizing other photos was a challenge and many of the above are secondary scans.

Drawings of the boat can be found on “The Boat” page.

Maps can be found on “The Event” page.

 

The Team

The core team of Project Cheers in 1968, was Jim Morris, Dick Newick, and Tom Follett. The book adds details on the contributions of many others. morris-newick-follett

Jim Morris, Dick Newick, Tom Follet as photographed in 1968 by Fritz Henle in St. Croix, USVI.

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About Jim Morris: A Postscript authored by Halsted Morris, one of Jim and Tootie’s two children can be seen HERE:

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Jim Morris portrait by Fritz Henle

About Dick Newick

Additional commentary/anecdotal contributions from friends and family will eventually be added to this website. There is presently a good page created by Joseph Oster, that is full of links and info on Dick Newick’s work. You can link to ‘dicknewickboats’ here.

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Portrait of Dick Newick by Fritz Henle 1968

About Tom Follett

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Portrait of Tom Follett by Fritz Henle

 

 

More on the team soon…

The book

Project Cheers is a story of brilliant organization and endeavour

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by three men dedicated to an idea which many thought crazy. That idea was a fantastically fast twin hulled craft called Cheers, designed specifically by Dick Newick to win the Single Handed Transatlantic Race in 1968. In the hands of Tom Follett, one of the most capable (and modest) small boat sailors in the world, who endured great discomfort and danger, she put up an astounding performance in the race, sometimes reaching quite hair raising speeds, to finish a very close third. The fact that she did not win can only be attributed to bad luck. —quote from the original book jacket of “Project Cheers”, first published in 1969.

Read a book review of Project Cheers HERE

Cheersbookcoverpic-sm
This was the original cover photo for the book Project Cheers, published in 1969. It was taken by Dick Newick in St Croix, USVI. You can see Buck Island in the back ground.

Buy a soft cover copy of the new edition of Project Cheers, by Jim Morris, Dick Newick, and Tom Follett. Available NOW. You can also pick up a copy at the NW Maritime Center Chandlery in Port Townsend,  and get one while visiting Small Craft Advisor Magazine, or Port Townsend Watercraft.

A hard cover copy of the new edition of Project Cheers, by Jim Morris, Dick Newick, and Tom Follett is being considered if there is adequate interest. You can contact ptwatercraft @ gmail.com to express interest. (no spaces in email address)