Ada Merril Kober wrote a history of the Naples Sabot, from which we quote: "The fist Naples sabot was designed and built by Roy McCullugh and R. A. Violette, who lived in the Naples district of Long Beach, hence the name, Naples Sabot." She goes on to relate how they modified a design that had appeared in rudder Magazine. The main change was to substitute a leeboard for the centerboard. The first two boats were built in Mr. Violette's garage during World War II. More were built after the war, primarily for use as tenders for yachts.
People who saw the sailing preformance of the boat became interested, and the class began to grow. Offical plans were drawn up in 1946 and otheres began to build them, some by professionals, others by home builders. Juniors soon discovered the Sabot, and it quickly became the favored boat for teaching beginners to sail. Due to their light weight, the juniors found they could easily beat their elders. The Naples Sabot One-design Assn. (INSA) was formed in 1946, divided into fleets for juniors (A, B, C, etc) plus a separate class for adults. The Sabots made the greatest showing of any class at the Manning Series at Newport in 1947 when 29 Sabots competed, though there were less than 100 Sabots in existence at that time.
The most successful Sabots, from a racing standpoint, were the Brian Thomas boats, then of Mission Bay Yacht Club. He built his first wooden Sabot in the eighth grade, and began producing them in quantity in the tenth grade. He made a mold for glass boats at age 21 (1965), and eventually built over 100. Most of the red, white and blue Brian Thomas boats are still in service, and are considered by many to be stiffer and stronger than any other. The mold was later sold, and boats are still being built from it under the Corsair lable.
Approximately 100 Sabots make their home at MBYC and are the mainstay of our junior program. About 25 Sabots belong to the Senior Sabot Fleet. This fleet was started in 1957 by Dick Dressler and a dozen parents who wanted to race their kids' Sabots. They asked the race committee for a separate start after other fleets had started, and soon had 10 - 12 Sabots each time. The club gave the fleet status soon after. It was the first Offical Senior Sabot fleet recognized by the Naples Sabot One-Design Assn.
To date, over 10,000 Sabots have been built. At the last Jr. Sabot Nationals, 170 boats competed. There is a possibility that a self-rescuing version may be sanctioned by the Association. John Hedrick of MBYC has built a prototype, which is undergoing a one-year trial. Will it be approved? The long-term future of the design may depend on that decision. In the meantime, many sailors at MBYC will continue to have fun in their little dutch shoe.
Ed Jones, December 1995