Saturday, November 21, 2020


 Ched and Judy Proctor

[Ed. Note: Ched has known the Johnstone family for nearly four decades. First meeting was in Pewaukee, WI when Bob & Mary J. and Stu & Drake J. started sailing 470s in 1973 in Chicago, IL. At that time, Ched had just gotten a job working with the famous Finn Olympic Medallist, Peter Barret, at the North Sails loft in Pewaukee. Things were small back then, as the North Sails loft was actually part of the Harken Yacht Equipment building, as well as Harken's boat-building operation. Ched spent a lot of time with Peter and Olaf Harken. And, the Johnstone's spent a lot of time with Ched (and fellow Hingham, MA friend Chuck Millican) tinkering on 470s, learning how to make them go faster at various venues across the Midwest and Northeast, the most popular regions for 470s back in the day. In due course, once Bob and brother Rod J. co-founded J/Boats in 1977 with the J/24, Ched had also moved back to the northeast working for North Sails. In the first year of its existence, Ched was tasked with being the one-design guru for the J/24 class, as well as Vince Brun out West, and later five-time J/24 World Champion Kenny Read. Ched continued to work closely with the Johnstone clan with every new one-design product introduction since, including the J/22, J/70, and J/80- four of the world's largest one-design offshore keelboat classes.]

Herewith, Powlison's interview with our dear friend Ched:

With nearly a half-century of small-boat one-design racing and sailmaking in his wake, Ched Proctor is set in his ways, and his ways are fast.

In 1964, Ched Proctor had a serious case of the slows. He was 14 and competing in Turnabouts in Scituate, Massachusetts, just southeast of Boston. “I remember coming in to the dock and being very frustrated,” he says. There was Bill Mattern, high school teacher, part-time garage sailmaker and unofficial mentor for the junior racing crowd. Proctor asked him what he thought of his sail. Mattern studied it and quickly confirmed the young sailor’s suspicion.

Seventy-five dollars later, with a new sail in hand, Proctor headed for Quincy Bay Race Week. Though he hadn’t been that competitive in his local fleet, he mustered the courage to sign up for the championship division—and won it. With that victory came an epiphany—at least for a 14-year-old—that would determine the trajectory of his life: “I learned then that a sail with the right shape makes the boat go faster.”

Professionally, Proctor would go on to work almost 50 years with North Sails, taking him to lofts in Wisconsin, Australia, Germany and Connecticut. Competitively, he would roll up an unparalleled list of one-design North American and National titles, notching 17 major victories in the Lightning class alone, including that class’s 2018 and 2019 North American Championships. A lot of the one-design sails North Sails sells today were designed by Proctor.

Ched and Judy Proctor and kids
The family sailing unit has always been tight with the Proctor clan, Ched and Judy Proctor and their sons Thomas and Charlie.

Proctor is a waterman who grew up on a bay in Weymouth, just south of Boston. He remembers, around age 5, spending time in an old, derelict rowboat in the backyard. “I pretended to row it using a couple of brooms,” he says. “It got to the point where I wore out the ground under the brooms and wore the bristles right off them. About that same time, my father tried to teach me how to sail and steer a boat upwind. I just couldn’t do it.” There’s a subtle shrug and hint of disappointment in his voice as he tells that story, and then concedes, “It seems that 7 is more the right age to learn that sort of thing.”  Read the rest of the article here at Sailing World:Add to Flipboard Magazine.