Deceased , Modern

John

English

Jack

19132013

John Arborgast English was active in racing, fleet promoting, boatbuilding and, after retirement, maritime painting.
Jack English was an avid sailor who began designing and building his own boats as a young man. One of his early efforts, Imp, was built when he was 13 years old. A treasured family photograph shows the entire neighborhood turned out for the boat’s christening with Virginia Cranmer, then 3 years of age, ready to break a bottle of river water across its bow. Jack and Virginia eventually married and recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary together.
Through the years, English raced various one-design and auxiliary sailboats in New Jersey, winning dozens of trophies. In the early sixties, he designed and built the Mercer 44 racing sloops, which were the largest fiberglass sailboats at the time.
Jack joined the Island Heights Yacht Club (IHYC) in 1936. He served as IHYC’s Fleet Captain and Rear Commodore, and provided extensive support for regattas sponsored by the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association (BBYRA). During the course of his life he belonged to four yacht clubs (Island Heights, Toms River, Coral Reef and Key Biscayne) but always particularly cherished his membership at IHYC.

Jack participated actively in BBYRA championship regattas over the course of his career. He sailed one-designs in local races and the BBYRA. He won the BBYRA Championship in Snipes several times and the New Jersey State championship in 1943. He sailed a Penguin that he built in his basement with his seven-year-old daughter as crew, instilling in her a love of sailing which she still has today. He sailed a Barnegat 17 with another of his daughters. Jack also helped start an Ensign fleet on Barnegat Bay in the 1970’s and won many Bay Championships in this class as well.

Jack helped organize and run the IHYC auxiliary fleet in the early 1950s. At the time the boats were wooden, but Jack wanted a fiberglass boat. He formed a company that built seven Mercer 44s based on a Bill Tripp design. All are still sailing today, a lasting tribute to him and the Bay where they were conceived. Jack kept the first one. At the time of its launching in 1955, it was the largest fiberglass sailboat in the world and made national and international news. Named Shadow, it won many races locally and on the Eastern Seaboard racing circuit. With it he raced in the Bay Head offshore races, the Barnegat Lightship races, the Annapolis Fall series (always beating Navy), the Lipton, Miami-Nassau and the Bermuda Races.

After selling Shadow Jack continued to race locally with Shadow II, which he built using a system of templates he designed so that no expensive mold was required to build the boat.
Then he bought a 57 foot Chris Craft and began cruising seriously in the winter. He and his family went to Miami and the Bahamas every year.

After retiring from business, Jack took up painting, specializing in marine art. His artwork won numerous awards including a gold medal for marine painting sponsored by the Franklin Mint Gallery of American Art. His works have been represented by Newman Galleries of Philadelphia, Annapolis Marine Gallery, the R.I. Schaeffer Gallery at Mystic Seaport, and several other galleries in Florida, Washington and California. A large number of his original oils were recently featured in “The Art of the Sail”, a marine art exhibition at the John. F. Peto Studio Museum in Island Heights.

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