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History of IODs in Norway

posted Mar 24, 2013, 1:48 PM by Danielle Lawson   [ updated Mar 24, 2013, 2:10 PM by Danielle Lawson ]
In the March issue of the Norwegian sailing magazine"Seilas", Mikel Thommessen recounted the  history of the IOD class in Norway in his review of the 75th Anniversary Book.  Be sure to click on the link and check out the stunning photograps that he included -- even if your Norwegian is rusty.  Thanks to Asbjorn for the following translation:

IOD is in good standing.
Mikkel Thommessen

IOD recently turned 75, but is still going strong. The Anniversary book tells the exciting story, here unveiled in a short version.

1937 was a good year for Norwegian boat design. Not only was this the year the Oslo-Dingy was launched; the most important recruiting boat until the A-Dingy, conceived by Erling Kristoffersen, entered the stage in the 1950’s. 1937 was also the year in which IOD was introduced to the US and Norway, albeit technically speaking, the first boat was delivered to the US the latter days of 1936.

The 75 year old lady holds her own, in our opinion, because it is one of the most beautiful boats ever built.

American initiative

It was the well known American sailor Cornelius “Corny” Shields who first conceived the idea and who came to the Norwegian boat builder with the task of building a more affordable and slightly smaller 6-metre, in a one-design format. One would imagine there would be a plethora of American designers who could take on such an endeavor, but Shields had been sailing in Bermuda and fallen in love with the sleek and beautiful lines of the Trimmingham brothers’ “Saga”, designed by Bjarne Aas. Consequently, he approached the Norwegian in order to have drawings made for the new Interclub boat intended for the Long Island Sound. In the magnificent anniversary book “The Saga of The International One Design”, which came out last year, written by Alessandro Vitelli, Herbet J. Motley jr. and Dana Jinkins,  Shields describes his enthusiasm of sailing the first delivered boat in drifting snow outside Larchmont, during the Christmas holiday of 1936.

Industrial production

Bjarne Aas had himself thought of launching a one-design boat when the difficult 30’s caused fewer orders of one-off boats to the recently established boat building yard at Isegran, near Fredrikstad. Something had to be done in order to secure the continued employment of his workers. The Norwegian sailor Magnus Konow visited the US in conjunction with his participation in the race for the Seawanhaka prize for 6-metres.  Corny Shields was at the helm for the American team in the regatta. The two of them found common ground in their mutual interest in bringing about a type of one-design as an alternative to the increasingly more expensive 6-metre. The snowball had started rolling. Aas had already the first preliminary drawings ready in the fall of 1935, and Shields liked what he saw. Together with his brother Paul and four other friends, which included Magnus Konow, they founded a consortium which placed an order for the first 25 boats. Aas could now start his production. IOD became the first serial produced large-scale sailboat, and at its peak, Aas delivered about 50 boats annually to customers in the USA, Bermuda, United Kingdom and Norway. The boats were delivered free of shipping charge, ready to sail in the US, at a price of $2,670, with a set exchange rate of  7.15; equaling NOK 19.090 at the current time.

Made it a hit.

“Seilas” (the KNS magazine) was the first to publish the drawings for the IOD in 1936, and in the spring of 1937, the 60 boat builders employed by Aas, built not only the 25 boats bound for the US, but also delivered six boats to Bermuda, and an additional 9 boats to Norwegian buyers. Concurrently, orders came in from the UK and from sailors in Maine and Massachusetts, who wanted to pick up the competition against Long Island Sound.  Later, the Class was also established in San Francisco, and in 1960, eight boats were delivered to Marseille, France.

Aas had ensured, through the Class Rules, in an effort to end up with as similar boats as possible, that all boats were required to be built at his shipyard.

Class Rules also called for all the sails utilized to be manufactured by the same sail maker, ordered at the same time, and distributed among the boat owners by a randomized draw.

Already by the summer of 1937, the IOD became the leading keelboat in the Long Island Sound, and later, all along the north east coast of the US, north of New York. All the leading keelboat sailors at that time, besides Corny Shields himself, and including such names as Arthur Knapp jr, George O’Day, Bus Mosbacher, Herman F. Whiton, Bob Bavier, Don MacNamara, Ted Hood and others got to try out the IOD at one point or another. Whiton got so excited about the boat that through his own Sailboat Training Facility, ordered 10 boats with the intent to rent them out to young, promising sailors at the symbolic annual rate of $1. Whiton, who became the Olympic champion in the 6-metre class, both in 1948 and 1952, trained using the IOD, and was the first to hold the title of World Champion in the class in 1959.

Wartime slowdown.

IOD also made a hit in Norway. By 1939, 21 boats were already delivered to Norwegian owners. By 1950, 41 boats were registered. With more than 30 IOD boats at the starting line, the Hankoe regatta was a beautiful sight to behold, and this event got to mark the annual peak for the sailors here at home. As in the US, the best keelboat sailors here at home also sought out the IOD.  Sailors like Finn Chr. Ferner, Peder Lunde, Calle Mortensen and others who had their earlier training in the junior boat “Drake”, subsequently went on to the IOD, and quickly made an impression on the class. However, the war lessened the sailing activity here in Norway. Dr. Henrich Nissen-Lie, the grandfather of editor Ole Henrik, had secured himself boat number eight of the IOD boats from an American who cancelled his order. However, he did not get to enjoy his boat for very long. The German commandant in Kirkenes requisitioned his boat and installed salute cannons on the deck as well as fitting it with an inboard motor, and when the commandant saw how the war was turning out in 1944, he loaded it on to a freight ship bound for Germany. The freight ship however, was sunk somewhere along the Norwegian coast, and Nissen-Lie’s IOD went down with it.

Also a handy recreational- and family boat

In Norway there weren’t too many large touring boats after wartime. To some, the IOD became the multipurpose spare time boat, father sailing regatta in weekends, and the family using the boat for touring.

The families Ferner and Mortensen were among those who spent summer holidays in their IODs. According to later generations, they had a lot of good memories in connection with those summers.

As we all know, these boats do not have a rail and the Mortensen family had an agreed drill if one of the daughters should fall overboard. The mother, Ingjerd, was to jump in after the child while father maneuver the boat in position to pick up the two. It so happened that one of the girls fell overboard, and by instinct the father jumped in after her. Then it was up to mother to take care of the boat.

Everything went quite well.

Popular Team Racing.

Team Racing between teams from Outer- and Inner Oslo Fjord  and teams from  USA, Bermuda and England were frequent and became popular. So also for young people recruited as crew for some of the foreign teams coming to Hankoe to race.

The Brits and Bermudians where particularly famous for their parties and the “Diamond King”, Stanhope Joel stands out. He invited all the sailors and those staying at Hankoe with friends, to a gigantic party at the Hankoe Hotel. Tales are still being told about it.        

At this time Fred. Olsen, Kalle Nergaard, Teddy Sommerschield and others had joined the class.  Fred. Olsen came to be the first Norwegian to become World Champion.  He won twice, in 1960 at Hankoe and 1961 at Oyster Bay.

The next world Champion from Norway was Dag Usterud in 2001.

Fred. Olsen comments that during a visit to Norway, Corny Shield was invited to go sailing on Olsen’s 12 meter “Figaro” and then decided to take an initiative to have Americas Cup reemerge sailing 12 meter Class.

This also happened in 1957, with Corny Shields as co owner of the winning boat “Columbia”.

Finished building wooden boats.   

The period from 1960 onwards saw the end of building wooden IODs, and by that the exclusivity as boat builder came to an end for Bjarne Aas. The last wooden IOD was build in 1967. Up till then the yard at Isegran had produced some 250 IODs.

Bjarne Aas was now getting old and complained about his eyesight. He had left his son Henrik in charge of the yard. Henrik started developing building IODs in glass, and when Bjarne died in 1969, 83 years old, Henrik had done some to achieve this.

The boat yard was bankrupt in 1969.

With the fiberglass boat building a new time in the history of the IOD began.  If the IOD had not taken the step to glass, certainly the Class would have died out.  But it was not without complications to produce in large enough series to develop expensive molds. A wooden IOD was used as a plug for the new mold.  Henrik Aas brought his IOD forms to USA and eventually sold them to investors there. He remained in the US the rest of his life.

Later on boats have been built in Scotland and to day in Sweden.

On the Worldcup map.

With growth of glass built IODs, the class expanded in USA, with new fleets in Nantucket and Fishers Island. Bermuda saw an increase in numbers, also because the boat was used in the King Edward VII Gold Cup professional match racing, taking place there every year.

In Norway the Class was reduced. Not much interest for fiberglass IODs, wooden boats expensive to maintain, and tough competition from the “Soling” and a growing “Drake” (Dragon Class).


Jan Petter Roed arrives at the arena.

To the rescue for the class in Norway came Jan Petter Roed, a Norwegian born ship-owner. He got interested in IOD sailing and bought, not one, but several IODs. He was accompanied by enthusiastic sailors like Tore Groenvold, Ulf Ulriksen, Knut Tenvig, Oestein Aasgaarden, Asbjoern Johnsen, Martin Rygh and Paul Rynning. Roed also participated internationally and became a popular ambassador for the class. He generously lent boats to others and by that helped maintaining activity in Norway.

In recent years several boats have been bought by Fredrikstad based sailors, and the well known  sailor Ludvig Daae have bought a part in one of the boats, mainly to be able to participate at Hankoe Race Week and abroad at world championships, where it is customary to lend boats. This year’s world championship is arranged the same week as the NORC Norwegian Championship. This puts Ludvig in a dilemma, which to choose?

But next year the world championship takes place in Norway, and then the 2012

Norwegian Class Champion most certainly will participate, if he qualifies.

A translation by Asbjorn Johnsen.