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.

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Receiving the Amateur Yacht Research Society (AYRS) for the most innovative yacht design of the decade.

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

Click to the Bulova Accutron Commercial starring Tom Follet
Click to the Bulova Accutron Commercial starring Tom Follet

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.

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The info that accompanied the AYRS award.

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.

The Boat

Cheers is a 40ft Proa designed by Dick Newick specifically as an entrant in the 1968 OSTAR, a single handed transatlantic race. Cheers was given an award by the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Newport Rhode Island, for being the first U.S. yacht to finish a Transatlantic Single Handed Race and the Amateur Yacht Research Society honored the team with a special award for research.

Where is Cheers today? Here is one video from Victor Laurent.

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Profile drawing of Cheers by Dick Newick

The book, Project Cheers, details the concept, construction,

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testing, and subsequent voyages from 1967 to 1968. There are three story tellers, three parts of the book; Jim Morris, Dick Newick, and Tom Follett, each detailing their specific points of responsibility and experiences during the project.

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Proa Cheers maneuver diagram by Dick Newick
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Cheers early drawings by Dick Newick
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Tom Follett’s shakedown cruise on Cheers.

See more photos from the book.

more to come…

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This photo spent years on Dick Newick’s wall. It was totally washed out to sepia tone. It has been recolored digitally.
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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.

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 Event

It was called then, the  Observer’s Single-handed Trans Atlantic Race, or OSTAR of 1968; This was the event and year that Cheers was designed and built for and raced in. For sailors and spectators alike, this event, under various names, remains an exciting event. This page contains related links and if you find more, please let me know!

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Official OSTAR website of the Royal Western Yacht Club – The U.K. side of the race

Newport Yacht Club – the U.S. side of the race.

WIKIPEDIA overview of individual OSTAR races

TRANSAT– the latest website of the race, once called the OSTAR

Video links

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The captains of the 1968 OSTAR. Tom Follett of Cheers is seen standing 4th from left. Photographer unknown.
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Proa Cheers and Tom Follett’s journey from St. Croix to Gosport.
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1968 OSTAR and proa Cheer’s track including back to St. Croix from Newport.

Cheers Poster!