Tommy Vaughan died July 1st aged 92, at home surrounded by his family.
by Jeremy Pudney
We received this news yesterday from Tommy’s son James and whilst feeling sad, I thought there goes a lovely man who had a really full and happy life. I am short on facts but have many pleasant memories of this short but bubbling man with twinkling blue eyes. Tommy and I first met as nervous newcomers to the UK 14 Committee, held in those days at the Royal Thames Yacht Club. Although never Chairman, Stewart Morris was really in charge supported by the likes of Bruce Wolf and Johnny Prentice – and you really needed to raise you hand before you dare speak! Tommy and I were both in advertising and I think this naturally created a bond and the desire to modernise the 14 Class, which by then we were both besotted with – partially because of challenge of trying to tame these boats but also because of the rich history of the Class and the role it had played in developing dinghy sailing.
Of course one of the greatest contributions Tommy made to the Class, was gathering all the past detail, including designs of vintage 14s with photographs and finally then writing up its history including all the more recent developments. As the Class really started to take off in its modernisation programme with introduction of the single trapeze, then double trapezes and asymmetric spinnakers, Tommy recorded all of this as the first editor of Gossip that became one of the best class newsletters of its time. He was a natural PR man, gaining us much publicity in the yachting press – much to the annoyance of other classes.
Tommy mainly sailed his 14 at Rickmansworth Sailing Club, a gravel pit on the outskirts of London, that had a keen fleet of 14ers. Amongst them was an Aussie Alan Smith, who was full of the virtues of the Australian 14 lightweight skiffs – which I had experienced on my first trip to Australia. Tommy and I shared this long held dream and ambition of somehow getting the International 14 Class to develop fast enough and far enough, that an amalgamation of the two classes could be achieved. Over the early years, Tommy worked on this dream and I am so glad he was alive to see this finally happen.
Thank you Tommy – and let us remember some 14ers are forever.