Warren's Everett Pearson named to Sailing Hall of Fame

By Ted Hayes
Posted 11/11/19

Rhode Island boat building pioneer Everett Pearson, whose ideas and innovations revolutionized the commercial cruising sailboat market, has been inducted into the United States National Sailing Hall …

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Warren's Everett Pearson named to Sailing Hall of Fame

Posted

Rhode Island boat building pioneer Everett Pearson, whose ideas and innovations revolutionized the commercial cruising sailboat market, has been inducted into the United States National Sailing Hall of Fame in Seattle, Wa.

Mr. Pearson, who passed away at age 84 on Dec. 24, 2017, had a long career in the marine industry and pioneered the use of fiberglass in production cruising sailboats.

He was an active racing sailor and, graduating from Brown University in 1955, went right into boat building upon graduation with his cousin Clint. In the coming years, the two experimented with new materials in the family garage, forming what would become Pearson Yachts.

Around that time, the Pearsons had Carl Alberg design a 28-foot cruising boat that sold for under $10,000. The Triton was introduced at the 1959 New York Boat Show. Though just 17 sold initially, they build another 700 over the next decade. Three years later they launched the 22-foot Ensign, selling 1,800 boats with the class remaining active today. In 1964 Invicta, a 38-foot sloop designed by William Tripp, was the first production fiberglass sailboat to win the Newport to Bermuda Race.

When the original Pearson Yachts was sold to Grumman Allied Industries, Clint left to found Bristol Yachts while Everett partnered with Neil Tillotson to form Tillotson-Pearson, Inc. (TPI). Out of that shop came the legendary J/24. By the late 1970s, TPI was building six J/24s a day, six days a week, in two locations. Ultimately, more than 5,000 were built, not including another 7,000 J/boats from the J/22 to the J/65.

As the marine industry changed, so did TPI, and the firm branched out to build exercise pools, wind turbine blades, buses, catamarans, and Alerion Express and Freedom sailboats.

Pearson has more boats in the American Sailboat Hall of Fame than any other builder: Five — Triton, Ensign, J/24, Freedom 40, and J/35.
Away from the design room, Mr. Pearson also heavily contributed to the sport of sailing. When a 10 perfect luxury tax on sailboats in the 1980s went into affect, Mr. Pearson became the founding member of Sail America and Sail Expo, to promote sailing and “sail only” boat shows.

At the same time, he built the trend-setting 35-foot J/105 with retractable bowsprit and asymmetric spinnaker for less than the $100,000, where the Luxury Tax kicked in. He did much to revive excitement in sailing.

“Everett Pearson was passionate about building better boats and sharing his talent,” according to a press release issued to announce his entry into the hall of fame.

“Many of the people who worked for him went on to build their own successful marine industry careers. Thousands of his boats will be sailing for many years into the future, securing Everett’s lasting legacy in the sport.”

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