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15 January 2009, 10:00 am
America's Cup Hall Of Fame Honours The Late John BIDDLE; Inducts John LONGLEY, Thomas RATSEY
John LONGLEY has been inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame

America's Cup Hall of Fame

The America's Cup Hall of Fame, located in Bristol Rhode Island, is pleased to announce the induction of John LONGLEY and the late Thomas RATSEY at a black-tie dinner on 30 April 2009.
The 16th Induction Ceremony, presented by Rolex Watch U.S.A. and hosted at the New York Yacht Club in New York City, will also honour the late John BIDDLE for his 2008 induction into the Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Honorary Chairmen of the event are Sir James HARDY of Australia, Bruno TROUBLÉ of France and Gary JOBSON of the United States; America's Cup Hall of Fame President Halsey C. HERRESHOFF will preside over the ceremony. Tickets are available by contacting the America's Cup Hall of Fame at 401-253-5000 or by email to

John LONGLEY AM (born 20 July, 1945)

John LONGLEY is a veteran of five Australian campaigns for the America's Cup, including four straight Cup Matches, winning the Cup in 1983. After his career as a 12-Metre Class sailor and team manager, he contributed to the America's Cup by participating in the development of the America's Cup Class.

LONGLEY's involvement in the 1983 Australia II campaign marked the high point of his career as a yachtsman. Longley helped Skipper John BERTRAND select the crew for Australia II; he choreographed the team's actions for tacking, jibing and other manoeuvres via detailed step-by-step instructions; and served in the crew as a grinder.

In addition to his contributions on the water, LONGLEY served as Australia II's Project Manager, managing the campaign's day-to-day operations from January 1981 until Executive Director Warren JONES took over in the summer of 1983, to allow LONGLEY to focus on racing the boat. While manager, LONGLEY was responsible, among other things, for coordinating the building of Australia II and the construction of her keel. He leveraged his experience in the grinder pit and foredeck to co-design the boat's deck layout with yacht designer Ben LEXCEN.

At age 41, LONGLEY retired from Cup sailing after completing one final stint as manager and grinder for Australia IV in the 1986 Cup defence trials in Australia. But his contributions to the Cup did not end there. Following the contentious 1988 Match, Longley co-authored the "San Diego Protocol", which established the challengers' rights and their method of challenging the defender in an orderly manner. This document was significant for three reasons: first, it made possible a smooth transition from the 1988 match to the 1992 match; second, it ushered in the International America's Cup Class (IACC) which replaced the 12-Metre class; and, finally, it was a prototype for future protocols. LONGLEY, while serving as the watchdog of the Protocol, was the chair and convenor of the conference of designers who developed the IACC rule.

In 1984, LONGLEY was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to yachting. He is currently serving as the Event Director for the ISAF Sailing World Championships to be held in Perth, Australia in 2011.

Thomas W. RATSEY (1851-1935)

Thomas RATSEY's career spans the classic era of the America's Cup. His entry into the family business at 15 heralded one of the most important contributions to America's Cup sailmaking made by a single individual. He was directly involved in seven challenges and the firm he controlled supplied sails for 10 challengers and four defenders during his lifetime.

At first, RATSEY's firm was in the shadow of the Lapthorn loft, but such was his promise that the latter initiated an 1882 merger to form the long-lived firm of Ratsey & Lapthorn. RATSEY was then personally responsible for the sails of every challenger until Shamrock IV after his first involvement crewing on Livonia at age 20. His continuous involvement with the Cup began with the Thistle challenge of 1887 when his close friend G. L. WATSON involved him in his designs at an early stage; his presence in New York during that challenge laid the foundations of many lifelong friendships and Ratsey & Lapthorn's US expansion.

RATSEY's attendance at the 1895, 1899 and 1901 Cup races became more than the now expected attendance of the challenger's sailmaker. On all these occasions he took home significant orders from American yachtsmen who recognized his unique talent. By 1901 many these were lobbying him to establish a loft in the US which he did within Robert JACOB's City Island boatyard in 1902. What resistance there was to the English invasion was effectively overcome with his firm's production of a near perfect mainsail for Cornelius Vanderbilt's New York 70, Rainbow.

John BIDDLE (1936-2008)

Spanning more than 40 years as the foremost yachting cinematographer-lecturer, John BIDDLE sailed with Ted TURNER, Dennis CONNER, Ted HOOD and dozens of other skippers on the U.S. east coast, Great Lakes, and west coast. He raced to Bermuda 11 times, was aboard the winning yacht to Halifax in 1957, cruised among the icebergs off the coasts of Labrador and Greenland, sailed the SORC several times, and crewed aboard square-riggers in the North Sea.

BIDDLE pursued a life of sailing, travel and adventure, while at the same time making a living as a film-lecturer. Lean and fast moving, he was proficient at all things nautical including one-design racing and offshore cruising and racing. He was thus able to combine his love for the sea and knowledge of sailing with a talent for film-making, resulting in 40 shows in 40 years, often highlighting the America's Cup.

BIDDLE's 40-year film archives are capped by comprehensive coverage of each America's Cup event from 1958 to 1987 in 10 season-long episodes from early trials to the final races, during the 12-Metre boat years. Excerpts from these films will be featured in the Induction Program in New York City on 30 April.

Dana Paxton
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