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For Immediate Release 05-11

Contact: Caroline Chetelat, (410) 956-1050, x22

[email protected]



Westlawn Kicks Off 75th Anniversary Year by Inducting Two Designers into

 Newly Established Hall of Fame


March 10, 2005, Edgewater, MD: The Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology commemorated its remarkable record of supplying talented designers and marine industry professionals for 75 years (1930 – 2005) during its Diamond Jubilee celebration. 


Sponsored by Hargrave Custom Yachts, Westlawn’s Diamond Jubilee celebration was held in Miami, FL, on February 17.  Taking the form of a gallery opening, Westlawn highlighted the “art of yacht design” by featuring the designs of numerous Westlawn alumni, in addition to holding an awards ceremony, which included the induction of Philip L. Rhodes and Olin J. Stephens, as the first two inductees of the newly established “North American Boat Designers Hall of Fame.”



Speaking at the Jubilee, Westlawn director Dave Gerr said, “Considering the importance and success of many Westlawn alumni, it’s been surprising to me how few folks have really understood what Westlawn is or what it has done.  We’ve produced more practicing small-craft designers than many of the other institutions in the world combined.  This includes Westlawn alumni on 14 different America’s Cup campaigns that we know of, and designers such as Jack Hargrave, Bill Shaw, Bruce King, Tom Fexas and many, many others. (A more complete list can be found at: Success Stories) It’s a pretty remarkable record.”


Sponsored by Westlawn, The Landing School and ABYC, the North American Boat Designers Hall of Fame was created to permanently recognize achievement in the field of boat design.  The plan is for the hall to be housed in Mystic Seaport Museum, and to induct two – or perhaps more – individuals every year who have demonstrated long-term and important contributions to the art and science of boat design.  The hall will house a crystal engraved commemorative plate, in addition to a painting of one of the more successful and representative boats designed by the Hall of Fame winner(s).  These paintings will be done by the marine artist, Jim Dewitt.



Philip L. Rhodes - Born in 1895, Rhodes not only  designed the America’s cup racer Weatherly, but his office designed sail and power yachts, including many production boats and class racers such as the O’Day Tempest and the Rhodes 19, as well as patrol boat and commercial vessels of every type.  His range of design was amazing - from 123'  motorsailers to 7' dinghies to hydrofoil racers to giant motor yachts.  His clients ranged from the Rockefellers to Sears and Roebuck.


He was not just an engineer but a true artist.  To produce such a huge output Phil Rhodes directed an able design team, with his son Bodie Rhodes doing much work aided by Al Mason, Charles Jannace, and Dick Davis, and even for a time, a young Olin Stephens, among others.  Rhodes retired in 1970 and was taken from us much too soon, in 1974. 


Philip Rhodes’ daughter Mrs. Silvia Harrison and her son Mr. Scott Harrison were on hand to accept the commemorative plate in memory of Philip Rhodes.



Olin J. Stephens - Olin J. Stephens was born on April 13, 1908 in the Bronx, New York. His father was a coal merchant who moved the family to Scarsdale, New York in 1913, where Olin and his brother Rod went to school. It was while spending summers on the New England coast that Olin first learned to sail.


Graduating in 1926 from Scarsdale High School, Olin attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology for one semester and then began his yacht design career at the age of 19. He worked for some time with Henry J. Gielow, and then Philip Rhodes. In 1928 a partnership was arranged with Drake Sparkman, a yacht broker, and on November 11, 1929, Sparkman & Stephens Inc. was formally created with five partners: Drake Sparkman, James Sparkman, James Murray, Olin Stephens, and Roderick Stephens.  Mr. Stephens' first success was with the design of the ocean racing yacht Dorade, launched in 1930, which was fast, and efficient. She won the 1936 Transpac, finishing first, first in class and first overall. In 1930, Olin also married Susie Reynolds. Olin designed one of the J-class boats, Ranger, for the defense of the 1937 America's Cup, and several other America's Cup boats were designed by Sparkman & Stephens including Columbia, Constellation, Freedom, Intrepid and Courageous.  Olin Stephens retired from the design business in the 1980's, after designing over 2,000 boats, including eight America's Cup winners, in career lasting more than 50 years.


Mystic Seaport Museum also houses the Philip Rhodes collection and the Sparkman & Stephens collection.



In addition to honoring Phil Rhodes and Olin Stephens, Westlawn also honored Norman Nudelman, Westlawn’s Provost, with a Lifetime Education Award  in recognition of a lifetime of excellence and achievement in marine education.  Mr. Nudelman is a graduate of Westlawn and holds a B.A. degree from New York University and a B.S. Degree from Long Island University.  He has over 20 years experience as a distance educator having served Westlawn as an instructor in yacht design, Supervisor of Instruction, and Vice President of Education. He retired in 1997 after serving 6 years as Westlawn’s President.  Mr. Nudelman is a former member of the American Society of Naval Engineers, The Royal Institution of Naval Architects (UK), and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. He is the author of several Westlawn textbooks on yacht design subjects and has served as a member of the American Boat and Yacht Council’s Structures and Arrangements Technical Committee.  Mr. Nudelman re-joined Westlawn’s staff as Provost in 2004.


In closing, Dave Gerr stated, “The assistance and support of both NMMA and ABYC, and also of the boating industry as a whole has been vital to the success of Westlawn.  Even more important was the hard work and dedication of our students and alumni, who took Westlawn education and made it into something to be proud of time after time after time.  So, I look out at all of you and say a deep and heart felt thank you.  What you’ve accomplished makes Westlawn and the boating industry truly proud.”


Click here to see more photos of the Jubilee celebration.




Founded in 1930, the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology is the only nationally accredited and state certified distance-learning school of small-craft design in the United States. As the not-for-profit educational affiliate of the American Boat and Yacht Council, Westlawn’s primary function is to assure a continual source of highly skilled designers to the marine industry. To learn more about Westlawn, please call (410) 956-7100 or explore the Westlawn web site at www.westlawn.edu.