Stanley Barrow's 67ft ketch, Dragoon, and Ed Parker's 75ft schooner, Idalia, kept yacht racing alive during the Depression
The Yachts of the Depression, Part I of II
By Staff Commodore R. C. Keefe, Club Curator & Historian
The economic depression of 1929–1940 brought the sport of yacht racing and yachting in general to a halt. By 1936, there were signs of relief, but the early years saw almost no activity on San Francisco Bay. The only activity that kept the sport alive was between the 75ft schooner, Idalia, owned by E. R. Parker of the San Francisco Yacht Club, and the 67ft ketch, Dragoon, owned by Stanley Barrows of the St. Francis Yacht Club. These two raced against each other on a boat-for-boat basis, without handicap, as each was about 51ft long at the waterline, and proved to be of equal speed on most points of sail. Idalia was designed by William Gardner in New York, and built by Geo. Lawley and Son in South Boston in 1907 as a gaff-rigged schooner. She came west in 1920 through the Panama Canal, and was converted to a stay-sail schooner in Los Angeles and then purchased by Dr. Parker in time for the 1925 race from Los Angeles to Tahiti. At 3,500 miles, that was the longest yacht race in the world at the time.
Dr. Parker was the first of the advertising dentists, with offices in Southern and Northern California. He was known as “Painless Parker” and all of his many offices were located on the second floor or higher. The front door of each read, “No Appointment Needed” and, “Gas Given.” Dr. Parker was not well appreciated by most other practicing dentists of the time, but he made a tremendous amount of money and spent much of it on Idalia. Her protest flag was red with a big white molar in the middle. He kept Idalia until 1940. She was destroyed in the South Pacific during the War. He never owned another yacht.
Stanley Barrows was an original member of the St. Francis Yacht Club and over the years he owned several yachts, both sail and power, including a 70ft powerboat, Nina; a 6-Meter, Strider; a 92ft schooner, Manana; a 66ft ketch Bonne Dundee; and the 67ft ketch, Dragoon. He bought Dragoon in New York and had her delivered to San Francisco on her own bottom in 1930. She was designed by Ford & Payne in New York and built by H.W. Embee and Son in Port Hawsbury, Nova Scotia, with much input from her first owner, Robert N. Bavier, Commodore of the Cruising Club of America. It was said she was the first big yacht built to the new C.C.A. Measurement Rule. Mr. Bavier had won the 1924 Bermuda Race with his 60ft yawl, Memory, and wanted the new Dragoon to be ready for the 2016 Bermuda Race. It was Bavier’s plan to be the first boat to finish, and to win on corrected time under the new rule. He did finish first, but not on corrected time.
Bavier found Dragoon to be a very good boat, but perhaps not well suited for the Long Island Sound where he was to sail her. She had a lot of wetted surface and required a lot of wind to be competitive. In 1929, Bavier decided to sell her. One has to wonder if the economic times spurred on his decision.
Meanwhile, Stanley Barrows out in San Francisco was looking for a new sizable yacht to race in the 1936 Honolulu Race. He wanted something that would be suitable for San Francisco Bay conditions, and many brokers told him that Dragoon would fit the bill. Upon seeing her at City Island, New York, Barrows knew she would be right at home in windy San Francisco. He signed a contract for her that included delivery from New York to San Francisco prior to March 1930.