by Dick Martin with updates by Ernest Freeland

Author’s note: extensive portions of this account are borrowed, with permission, from previous articles written by two long-time class stalwarts, Chuck Winder and Rick Martin (no relation to the author) who, because I am going to brag about them in this version, have not been listed as co-authors.

The Beginning

Since the “CR” in its name stands for “Cup Racer,” it is not surprising that the idea behind the CR 914 originated in 1983 with a “Super Mini America’s Cup Regatta.” It was held in Osaka, Japan, using 500 mm (about 19 ½ inch) models of the 12-Meter Class boats that were used in those days for the America’s Cup. In 1986, Kazuo Takei, a naval architect in Osaka, designed a 36 inch (914 mm) boat based on the International America’s Cup Class yacht that replaced the 12-Meter. This design evolved into the CR 914 of today. Osaka’s AG Ajikawa Corporation began to manufacture the first CR 914 kits shortly after that, and in 1990 the first kits were imported to the United States, where the Redmond, Washington division of AG Industries served as the distributor. To help promote the CR 914, AG Industries sponsored a second Super Mini America’s Cup Regatta during the trials before the 1992 America’s Cup Regatta in San Diego. Twenty-one international RC challengers, from England, Sweden, Germany, Japan, the Philippines and the United States entered the event, in which Graham Bantock from England defeated the defender, Canadian Bob Sterne.

AG Industries and Worth Marine

AG Industries in Redmond, which had been very successful marketing AG’s Whitewings line of paper airplanes and other flying toys in the United States, had no experience with model boats. Marketing of the CR 914 was limited and early sales were disappointing. Fortunately, at about this same time Greg Worth in Marblehead, Massachusetts had begun to look for a boat that he could sell to people who could not afford to buy the bigger Marblehead Class boats that his Worth Marine shop sold. Equally fortunately, at the same time (1992) Joel White from Marblehead was serving as a member of Bill Koch’s America Cubed syndicate that defended the America’s Cup in San Diego. White returned home to Marblehead with a CR 914 (#23, which is still going strong and won the Region 1 Championship in 2005). When White took the boat to Greg Worth for some repairs, Greg realized that this was the boat he was looking for, a high performance, inexpensive, one-design kit model that was easy to build and looked pretty. The following year Worth made several design improvements, and Worth Marine started stocking the kit in the summer of 1993. Greg sold five 914s at a boat show that year and another 45 or 50 out of his shop in Marblehead. Then at Sail Expo in Atlantic City in 1994 he sold 25 more. He knew he had something good.

The Present-Day CR 914 Class is Born

In 1994 AGI made Worth Marine the sole CR 914 distributor in the United States. Worth designed an upgrade package to correct a weakness in the hull and added several important improvements. He rewrote the assembly instructions, added full electronics to the kit (“everything but sandpaper, paint, batteries and water”) and began to sell what is essentially today’s CR 914 kit later that year. The original price was $450, which held firm until increasing costs necessitated a $25 increase in the price ten years later. In 1998 marine architect, boat model and half-hull builder, and graphic artist Dave Ramos founded Chesapeake Performance Models, acquired the distribution rights from Worth Marine, and became the U.S. distributor of the CR 914. Ramos has further improved the assembly instructions and has continued Worth’s policy of selling kits, building finished boats, and providing custom graphics at his shop in Stevensville, Maryland. As Worth did before him, Dave also markets the CR 914 to full-scale (“peopleboat”) sailors at boat shows all over the country, where sailors can try their hand at sailing and racing CR 914s in a breeze created by giant fans at the windward end of the Chesapeake Performance Models pool.

The CR 914 Class Organization

In 1994 Greg Worth and several other 914 owners including the first CR 914 class secretary, Budd Conner from West Southport, Maine, wrote the initial version of the class rules, which became effective August 24, 1994. Worth recruited 19 other CR 914 owners, applied for recognition by the American Model Yachting Association, and the CR 914 Class was off and running. Conner was succeeded briefly by Ralph Peters of Edina, Minnesota, who hosted and ran the first CR 914 national championship regatta in 1995 before Conner took over again.

In October, 1996 Chuck Winder from Marblehead became the class secretary. Chuck served in that capacity for the following eight years, during which the class grew rapidly in size and stature. Thanks to his efforts and dedicated leadership it became recognized as one of the best in AMYA. Chuck published the first issue of our unique class newsletter, then known as the CR 914 NEWS, in November, 1996. Over the next eight years he virtually single-handedly wrote, edited and published 41 more issues before retiring in 2004. I consider this to be Chuck’s third most important contribution to the class, incidentally, albeit only slightly less valuable than his overall leadership in setting the tone for the intense but friendly and fair competition we 914ers enjoy, and his careful shepherding of the evolution of the CR 914 class one-design rules. Amendments to the rules were approved by class votes in 1997, 1998, and 2000, since then no further changes have been required. Of equal or greater importance have been Chuck’s wise interpretations of the rules, assisted by the class Advisory Committee that Chuck appointed in 1999 (these published interpretations are comparable in importance and force of law to Supreme Court rulings in the case of the U.S. Constitution).


Chuck retired from his position as class secretary in 2004, he remained a member of the Advisory Committee and served as class measurer for several more years. In 2005 Chuck received Larchmont Model Yacht Club’s Hugh B. Fletcher Spirit of Sailing Award. Later that year at the national championship regatta, which he and his Marblehead Model Yacht Club hosted, he was presented with a crystal pitcher and glasses honoring his years of service to the class. In 2004 the torch was passed to Dick Martin, a former full-scale dinghy and keelboat class champion, past member of the board of directors of the United States Sailing Association, and former chairman of US SAILING’s One-Design Class Council, who had switched to RC sailing when he moved to Columbia, Missouri.

Final Super Mini America’s Cup Regatta and the new CR 914 Cup

In 2004, the twentieth and final AGI-sponsored Super Mini America’s Cup-Japan Regatta was held in Osaka. The 36 competitors included four of the five previous winners, among them CR 914 designer and seven-time Cup winner Kazuo Takei himself. Rick Martin from Seattle, who was one of the early CR 914 pioneers in the United States and whose work takes him to Japan frequently, was one of the entrants. Rick, who first competed in a Super Mini America’s Cup (SMAC) in 1997, advanced through the series of elimination fleet and match races to the final round, where he faced nine-time champion and Cup defender Motoji Munesuke in the final best-two-out-three match for the perpetual trophy. Martin won, two-zip, and thus the Super Mini Cup was won for the first time by a gaijin (non-Japanese) entrant, presumably to be retired to the United States. In 2006, however, the SMAC regatta was reinstated by the Japan Model Yachting Society (JMYS), and Rick, after winning it for a second time, re-gifted the trophy to the JMYS.

CR914 National Championship Perpetual Trophy – Dick Huntington photo

Meanwhile, San Diego 914er Chuck May had purchased a miniature sterling silver replica of the America’s Cup during a trip to New Zealand, which in 2007 he donated to the class. It has been engraved retroactively with the names of all 13 winners of the CR 914 national championship and between presentations to its winner each year it will reside in the trophy case of the San Diego Yacht Club, alongside the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup and memorabilia from America’s Cup regattas hosted by SDYC.

CR-914 PRODUCTION MOVES TO THE UNITED STATES

From the beginning the majority of the CR-914 Kit was imported from Japan and then the US Distributor would add the items that make the CR-914 Kit one of the most complete kits available while removing the unnecessary items. For the most part this worked well, but did result in some issues with quality control and availability. Rick Martin, (mentioned above) became the Class Secretary in August 2009, through the relationships he had in Japan and with his knowledge of how the Japanese do business Chesapeake Performance Models was able to purchase the tooling and international rights for the CR-914 (and it’s little sister the CR-610) with his assistance. Tooling arrived from Japan to its new home in Stevensville, MD in 2011.

CLASS SECRETARY

David Graves from Larchmont, New York was handed the torch in December of 2011 and spent much of his time enhancing the class web-site while restructuring the class database. Thus allowing more seamless integration between the web-site and the class database.

At the end of September of 2013 David Graves passed the torch to Ernest Freeland.

CR-914 National Champions

CR 914 National Championship Regatta    
YearLocationChampionSail#Hometown
1995Minneapolis, MN Tony Johnson 77Excelsior, MN
1996Stowe, VT Greg Worth 181Marblehead, MA
1997Xenia, OH Kevin Dooley 97Marblehead, MA
1998Marblehead, MA Kevin Dooley 97Marblehead, MA
1999Larchmont, NY Dave Ramos 238Arnold, MD
2000Annapolis, MD David Van Cleef 737Annapolis, MD
2001Evergreen, CO Craig Mackey 541Seattle, WA
2002Larchmont, NY Geoff Becker 1001Annapolis, MD
2003San Diego, CA Geoff Becker 1001Annapolis, MD
2004Annapolis, MD David Van Cleef 737Annapolis, MD
2005Marblehead, MABob Twombly54Marblehead, MA
2006San Diego, CAChuck Luscomb661Deep River, CT
2007Deep River, CTDave Ramos238Arnold, MD
2008Marblehead, MADave Ramos238Arnold, MD
2009San Diego, CABrian Jobson1386Wolcott, CT
2010Annapolis, MDDavid Ryan973San Diego, CA
2011Pembroke Pines, FLDave Ramos238Arnold, MD
2012San Diego, CAGeorge Szabo1700San Diego, CA
2013Marblehead, MAAlex Ramos1239Arnold, MD
2014Tulsa, OKDavid Ramos238Arnold, MD
2015San Diego, CAGeorge Szabo1700San Diego, Ca
2016Queenstown, MDDavid RamosArnold, MD
2017Tulsa, OKDavid Ramos238Arnold, MD
2018Marblehead, MADavid Ramos238Arnold, MD
2019San Diego, CAGeorge Szabo1700San Diego, CA
2020Queenstown, MDDavid Ramos238Arnold, MD
2021Marblehead, MADavid Ramos238Arnold, MD