Deceased , Modern

Harry

Nye

19081987

Pictured above: Harry Nye (bottom right) and crew after winning the Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race in 1948

Harry Gale Nye Jr. was a Chicago-born American industrialist, entrepreneur, and world champion sailor. He graduated from the Berkshire School and joined the class of 1933 at Yale University where he was a member of the Society of Book and Snake. Nye, a descendant of the Yale family whose gift founded the University, left Yale prior to his graduation upon his father’s death to return home to Chicago to become president of the Nye Tool and Machine Works.

In 1933, Mr. Nye together with Jim Murphy, an experienced square rigger sailor,  founded Murphy & Nye Sailmakers. Harry Nye actively sailed ice boats, C Scows, and E Scows, winning many Inland Lake Championships in the late 1920’s and 1930’s.

The following is an excerpt from an article on NW Ice Yachting Association, on old.iceboat.org, in which Jane Pegel shared some memories:

“Harry Nye was an outstanding soft water sailor. His family spent summers on Delavan Lake where he successfully raced scows. When the family business struggled during the Depression, Harry started a sail loft under the label Murphy & Nye.

The Inland Lake YA believed that because Harry owned a sail loft, he had an unfair advantage on the racecourse and declared he could no longer use sails from his own loft. These sails were identified by the color of the thread used to assemble the panels. Thereafter, Harry had his loft manager, Mel Jones, cut out the panels and take them to a competitor, All American Sails, to be assembled.

Harry Nye left scow sailing to race on Lake Michigan. He named his boats “Gale” and won Mackinac races and International Star Class Worlds Championships. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Harry’s daughter, Judy, crewed for the Chicago YC team helmed by Jane Pegel that won the Adams Cup, awarded to the North American Womens’ Champion.”

Nye’s dedication to the Star Class continued beyond his own active sailing career. He served as Commodore of the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association from 1955-1963. Following his death, the Harry Nye Trophy was established and is awarded to individuals whose extraordinary efforts contributed significantly to the success of the Star Class.  The winner of the fourth race in the Star World Championship is also awarded the Harry G. Nye Trophy, in honor of Nye’s dedication to the Star Class.

Nye also founded and was president of North American Hydrofoils, which designed and built the U.S.’s first commuter hydrofoils, named Enterprise and Endeavour, in 1961. These two prototype vessels were commissioned to shuttle commuters from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey to Wall Street in Manhattan. (Various Wikipedia sites)

Accomplishments and Honors

  • 1937, 1938 1st, E Skeeters NW Regatta
  • 1938, 1940, 1941 1st, Bacardi Cup
  • 1942, 1949 Gold, Star World Championship
  • 1938, 1941 Silver, Star World Championship
  • 1950, 1951, 1st, Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac
  • 1946, Nye served with New York Yacht Club Commodores Harold Stirling Vanderbilt and W.A.W. Stewart on a subcommittee of the North American Yacht Racing Union (now known as US Sailing) to write the revised International Yacht Racing Rules, originally codified by Vanderbilt in 1934
  • 1955-1963, Served as Commodore of the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association
  • Following his passing, the Harry Nye Trophy was established and is awarded to individuals whose extraordinary efforts contributed significantly to the success of the Star Class.
  • The winner of the fourth race in the Star World Championship is also awarded the Harry G. Nye Trophy, in honor of Nye’s dedication to the Star Class.

 

 

Excerpts from the Obituary for Harry Gale Nye, Jr, Chicago Tribune, September 22, 1987

By Kenan Heise

HARRY G. NYE, CHAMPION YACHTSMAN

Harry Gale Nye Jr., 79, one of the nation`s most respected yachtsmen and former owner of Murphy & Nye Sailmakers and Nye Tool Co., twice won the Chicago-to-Mackinac race and was two-time world champion in yachting`s International Star class.

Mr. Nye, a Chicago native, was attending Yale in 1932 when his father died. The family tool and die business was suffering during the Depression, and the young man was without work. He loved sailing and began mending sails as a hobby and then as a business. By the outbreak of World War II, when canvas and other sail making equipment was no longer available, he had hired 15 workers to cut and sew sails. He sold the company in the late 1950s.

The Nye Tool Co., the tool and die firm founded by his father in 1904, was sold in 1964 to an Indiana company.

His sails had gone around the world, and Mr. Nye used them himself in 1942 to win the International Star world championship. He repeated the feat in 1949 against a field no longer reduced by a world war.

Mr. Nye captured the ”Mac” in 1950 and 1951. He also won the Detroit-to-Mackinac Race. In 1965, he was named Chicago-area Yachtsman of the Year. He won the Olympic trials in 1956, but did not go on to compete because of his health.

Over the years, he owned more than 50 ships, all called ”Gale,” a family name.

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