Highlights in El Toro History

From Class Handbook, printed in 1973

In 1939-1940 members of the Richmond Yacht Club on San Francisco Bay met to select a small boat for use as a yacht tender as well as a sailing dinghy. They chose MacGregor’s “Sabot,” an eight-foot pram, plans for which had been published by Rudder Magazine. The first hull was constructed in a night school boat-building class.

It followed the lines of the Sabot exactly but was modified in other features. Before this was even launched, other Richmond members became interested and at their regular get- togethers, they decided that since the boat had been a result of these Bull Sessions, it should be named “El Toro” and the shovel be the sail insignia.

During 1940-45 the class grew chiefly in the minds of the skippers, many of whom were far from their home waters. Thus in 1945 as soon as materials

became available for boat building, El Toros were seen at several Hawaii yacht clubs as well as in the San Francisco Bay Area where they “blossomed-out” indeed, with vari-colored sails of surplus parachute material in fire-engine red, green and blue.

In 1946-47 the class became formally organized. Ninety-five skippers held a meeting at Richmond Yacht Club in April, 1946, and elected the first Chairman, Hal Decker, whose chief duty was to seek recognition of the class in one-design racing. As an unofficial measurer, Bill Warren made a survey of hulls and finding no two identical in all respects, drafted the first set of specifications, a necessary step in attaining official standing. After the basic rules and limitations were formulated, 

the El Toro was accepted by the Small Boat Racing Association of Northern California. At the end of the first season, records show that 18 El Toros entered nine regattas, representing five yacht clubs. Many of the creators of the class from the 1939 era were at the top of the point-score list. Also in 1946 a Richmond couple, the Ralph Nettersons, gave the El Toro its first long-distance cruising try-out. They traveled 180 miles in two El Toros on the Sacramento River.

1947-48 saw more organizational progress with a Constitution and By-Laws being adopted on February 19th, 1947. Official charters were granted that year to fleets in Waikiki and Oakland Yacht Clubs; Richmond previously held Charter #1. In 1948 the Measurements Committee was replaced by an Association Measurer, Al Estell, who organized an official El Toro Racing Team to enter the Los Angeles Mid-Winter Regatta of ’48, this being the first class representation in any inter-sectional sailing.

In 1949 the 200th hull was registered and Fleet #4 at Lake Merritt was chartered. Joe Barker of Marina Yacht Club gave the Association an official blueprint with all the details of construction, and the class began to distribute these to home builders.

In 1950-51 boats were registered up to #400 and charters #5, #6 and #7 were issued. Late in 1951 boat #425 was built by Frank Wharton of Lake Merced, San Francisco, for a club raffle. He immediately had requests for four more and Fleet #8 was granted to Lake Merced Sailing Club.  

At the 1952 Annual Association Meeting, registration of boat #500 was celebrated and before the end of the year Charter #9 was issued to Palo Alto Yacht Club. This was also the year of the first Bullship Race among Hawaii skippers.

In 1953 Charter #10 was granted to the fleet at Hawaii Yacht Club.

In 1954, the first National Championships were sailed for Seniors and Juniors, per deed of gift from Oakland Chamber of Commerce. This was also the year the first Bullship Race across the Golden Gate was staged.

In 1955 registration for #1000 was reached and set aside for Walt Luckert, Secretary-Treasurer who had served the class since its beginning. However, he preferred to retire his original #11 for #1111 and #1000 was sent to Bill Meartens, active El Toro organizer in Hawaii. In March, 1955, Measurer Bill Craig died. He had been active in San Francisco yachting for many years and served as Class Measurer for five years. His personal project of pre-fabricated measuring jigs was completed by the next measurer, Peter Newell, and measurement certificates took on new importance in all areas. Charter #12 was issued to Kaneohe Yacht Club in Hawaii.

In 1956 Walt Luckert “retired” as Secretary-Treasurer (as well as editor of the Shovel Bulletin) and was elected President. The constitution was revised to extend officers’ duties and three people were elected to carry out his work. Margaret Newell succeeded Mr. Luckert as Shovel editor.

During 1957 the El Toro class received national publicity from Rudder, True and Yachting magazines as well as Pacific Coast coverage in Sea and Sunset. Inquiries and requests for plans.

came from most Eastern and Southern states as well as Canadian provinces and foreign countries including Brazil, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Formosa. At the end of 1957, Walt Luckert retired as President, completing 22 years accrued service as a class officer. He was unanimously voted Honorary President.

1958 brought official acceptance of fiberglass boats and the Board of Governors set up strict specifications for that type of construction. Also in ’58 some twelve skippers including class officers took El Toro sails and flew from California to enter the Hawaii Invitational.

In 1959 the first representatives from Hawaii entered the El Toro National Championships, held that year on Lake Merced, San Francisco. Before the end of 1959, hull #2000 was registered and the E.T.I.Y.R.A. filed for incorporation under the California Code.

In 1960 charters went to San Jose Sailing Club and Elkhorn Yacht Club. Class National Regatta in August, on Lake Merritt was won by a Hawaii Yacht Club skipper. In October, 53 mainlanders flew to the Hawaii Invitational Regatta. Boat registration reached #2300.

In 1961 charters went to Washington, D.C. and Lanikai, Hawaii. Look Magazine included El Toro in “America’s Favorites” and 250 boat plans were sold in 27 states. Hawaii Yacht Club skippers again won the Nationals, held on Lake Merritt.

In 1962 ETIYRA went into business with telephone listing and part-time secretary. National Championships held in Hawaii with 11 mainland skippers flying over (and shipping boats); Senior title won by another Hawaii Yacht Club skipper.

In 1963 charters were issued to Denver, Colo, Wichita Falls, Texas and San Leandro, Calif. Boat registration neared 3500. National Regatta held on Clear Lake, California won by Lake Merritt skipper.  

In 1964 five new fleets were granted charters in the first five months, including Lake Ellyn Yacht Club in Illinois and two groups of Employees Recreation Associations—Lockheed and Hewlett- Packard. A skipper from the H-P fleet won the Senior Nationals held in the High Sierra mountains at Lake Huntington.

1965 showed increased activity in Colorado and Charter #28 went to a new group—Mile High Sailing Club in Denver. Three new California fleets became official. The National Regatta was held on Lake Merced, San Francisco and drew a record-breaking representation from 13 fleets. Senior winner was from Lake Merritt.

In 1966 eight new charters were issued—to fleets in Portland, Oregon; Mt. Sinai, New York; Renton and Seattle, Washington; Yankton, South Dakota; and Monterey, Tomales Bay, Lake Tahoe and Foster City in California. Nationals were held on beautiful Howard Prairie Lake in southern Oregon and won again by Lake Merritt skipper.

In 1967, because of participation of British Columbia skippers in the 1966 Nationals, the Board of Governors changed the “National Championship” to the “North American Championship Regatta.” First North Americans, held in Seattle, Washington, won by another Lake Merritt skipper. Six new charters were granted to fleets in Texas, Illinois, Oregon and California.

In 1968, four new charters were issued. Three went to California fleets—Diablo, Greenbrae and Morro Bay; one went to the Northern Colorado Yacht Club. The North Americans were again held on Huntington Lake, Calif., where conditions were just right for a “weaker sex” skipper from the

Island Sailing Club to win in the Seniors. Intermediate division was won by Lake Merritt skipper and Junior champion was from San Jose.

In 1969, the San Jose fleet again did well at the North Americans, held on Grand Lake, Colorado. Their skippers took home both Senior and Junior Championship trophies, while a Lake Merritt sailor won in the Intermediates. Because of the increased activity on the Northwestern fleets, the Board approved the division of the Pacific Region into two regions--#1 (Oregon, Washington and British Columbia) and #7 (California and Nevada).

Five new charters were issued, all to fleets outside of “parent” California: to Northbrook, Illinois; Ottawa, Kansas; Pymatuning, Pennsylvania; Illania, Indiana; and Grand Lake, Colorado—the first and only all-girl fleet.

In 1970, charter #55 has been issued to the Fremont Sailing Club, in California. An enthusiastic group in Menominee, Michigan is organizing and will soon receive charter #56. Other prospective fleets include one at Oroville, Calif., and another in Victoria, British Columbia. After 13 years of service, Margaret Newell retired as Shovel Bulletin editor and was succeeded by Rosetta Jacobsen. Boat #7153 was issued in June.

1971 began with Potomac River Sailing Assoc. chartered fleet #56. Eight more charters granted during coast-to-coast expansion! North American Championships at Lake Merritt brought 98 skippers from 14 fleets to Oakland. Documentary regatta movie made for E-T promotional use. Region #3—Central U.S—divided into North/South regions for more activity. E-T sect. Madge Corbett retired after nine years; Mrs. Edna Robinson took over office duties.  

1972, Charters 65-69 granted fleets from British Columbia to Virginia and Maryland. 81 skippers raced in “North Americans” held for the first time on the East Coast: At Pohick Bay near Washington, D.C. Rosetta Jacobsen resigned as Shovel Editor; Buddy Belote took over as class publisher.