Father of the 49er

Francis (Frank) Dewer Bethwaite passed away this morning after a very short illness.  Frank was considered the Father of the International 49er Class and was instrumental in getting the 49er to where it is today.  

Most visitors to Bethwaite Design would have had the honor of meeting Frank. He would usually be working away on one project or another.  His latest passion being foiling concepts.  He had the rare ability to combine a wealth of theoretical knowledge (much of which was derived and proven by himself) with very clever and practical skills.  If he thought of something, he would make it and try it out.

Together with Julian, Frank spent many hours tow testing and refining their original 49er hull design. Adjusting by just 1 or 2 mms at a time, glueing on balsa wood and fairing it in.  Refining the shape until they were happy.  Frank’s practical hands-on approach, together with the wealth of information he brought to the project resulted in a shape that remain state-of-the-art to this day.

Frank has left us with a great body of knowledge contained in the 3 books he has written. They are the recognized point of reference for apparent wind sailing.

The example that he has set for all sailors to think about things and then to get out there and prove or dis-prove them is something we have to be most thankful for.

The 49er fleet at the SEIKO 49er World Championship held a moment of silence at the prizegiving as well as sailed the day in his honor. The medal race competitors all raced with a black card in their sails to honor his memory.  Our thoughts are with the Bethwaite family. 

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