"If it floats he'll sail it, and if he sails it he'll make it go faster."
That was the tribute by President Bill Lynn of the United States Yacht Racing Union to Arthur (Artie) Knapp Jr., one of the country's foremost racing yachtsmen, as Knapp received the Nathanial G. Herreshoff Trophy, the group's most prestigious award.
The trophy is presented every year to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to yachting.
Knapp, who lives in Larchmont, N.Y., is widely known in Southern California for his competition and support of Long Beach Yacht Club's Congressional Cup match-racing series. He raced in several of the early Congressional Cup matches and was later named an honorary judge.
Knapp has been sailing since 1917. In 1922, at the age of 15, he became the second skipper to win the Sears Cup, symbolic of the junior national sailing championship. He won the Star world championship in 1930, after having sailed as a winning crew in 1924.
In America's Cup competition Knapp was a member of the after-guard on the J-boat Ranger which defended the Cup with four straight victories, and in 1958 was skipper of the 12-meter Weatherly, the first year the 12-meters were used in Cup competition. He was beaten in the trials by Columbia, with Briggs Cunningham, now of Newport Beach, at the helm.
One of the founding fathers of "frostbiting," Knapp has been involved in winter dinghy racing for more than 50 years. From 1947-66 he was winning skipper in the local series in all but five seasons.
His many other honors include Yacht Racing Assn. championships spanning five decades. He was also one of the founders of the Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Assn. in 1930.
Knapp is also an author, lecturer and raconteur. His 1952 book, "Race Your Boat Right," has been read by three generations of sailboat racers.
Now in its fourth printing, the book is known colloquially as "Sink Your Boat Upright," after a story Knapp tells on himself about the time he "sank a dinghy--bow first, like a submarine--and came up with my pipe still in my mouth."