PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Ted Hood, a yachtsman, yacht designer and builder, and sailmaker from Rhode Island who captained the winner of the 1974 America's Cup, has died at the age of 86.
Hood died June 28 at a nursing home in Middletown, near his home in Portsmouth, his son Richard Hood said. He had had pneumonia and heart troubles.
Considered an innovator in the industry, the elder Hood was a member of both the America's Cup Hall of Fame and the National Sailing Hall of Fame, which called him the dominant force in sailing for nearly 20 years.
"When I was young, I thought if I can be a sailmaker, make $12,000 a year, sail and work on boats, I'll be happy," Hood is quoted as saying in his biography on the National Sailing Hall of Fame's website.
Frederwick Emmart Hood was born in Beverly, Mass., and grew up in Danvers and Marblehead. He inherited his love of sailing from his father and built his first boat at the age of 7, Richard Hood said.
He served in the Navy during World War II. Early in his career, he worked repairing sails in Marblehead but found shortcomings in the strength and durability of the cloth. So he set out with his father to improve it.
"He started repairing other people's sails and realized he could do it better," Richard Hood said.
In 1955, the elder Hood founded Hood Sailmakers, which was for a time the world's largest sailmaker. Its sails were used on all the winning America's Cup yachts from 1958 to 1977, including the Courageous, which Hood skippered to victory in 1974. He also founded Little Harbor Yachts.
In the mid-1980s, Hood sold his sailmaking business to concentrate on boatbuilding and design. One of his best known boats, according to the National Sailing Hall of Fame, was the 60-foot American Promise, which the late Dodge Morgan used on his historic solo 150-day, 27,000-mile circumnavigation in 1985 and 1986. Some 6,000 of his boats are still sailing.
Hood was working on boat designs until his final days, his son said.
"He liked to create things," Richard Hood said. "He had ideas and he liked to turn them into reality. Boats and sailing happened to be that reality."
Hood is survived by his wife of 58 years, Susan, and four children.
A celebration of his life is being planned for later this year in Newport.