Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wild Hare to Be `Reborn' as JU Racer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wild Hare to Be `Reborn' as JU Racer

Article excerpt

Long before anybody ever heard of a Mumm 30, a Viper 840 or a Melges 24, there was the Wild Hare.

In 1977, when maxis, minis, ultralights and other high-tech boats weren't even gleams in naval architects' eyes, Jacksonville boatbuilder Lonnie Stoner was designing a custom racing boat for two local sailors, Ed Burroughs and J.B. Sasser.

The product, a board-beamed 32-foot fiberglass machine with a 6 1/2-foot draft, was the scourge of the St. Johns River and offshore racing in Northeast Florida for years, primarily with Burroughs at the helm. It even raced in the SORC and did well, back in the days when the old circuit was still a demanding test of men and boats offshore and not the race-around-the-buoys party it has since become.

Now, what is arguably the best-known racing machine in North Florida has a new home.

Al Graham, a fan of JU basketball who bought the Wild Hare from Burroughs several years ago, has donated the boat to the Jacksonville University sailing team.

Dolphins sailing coach Bob Mewhinny said he hopes to make the old Wild Hare a factor in big-boat racing in the area again.

"We're going to actively campaign the boat, and we don't go out there to finish second," said the JU coach. "The boat needs some tender love and care, and we can give it that."

The Wild Hare is actually the second PHRF-type racer donated to the JU team within the past few years. George Marsch, one of the area's most successful racers for the last 20 years, made a gift of his Morgan 24, Andiamo, to the Dolphin sailors a few years ago.

Mewhinny said that even though collegiate racing is primarily conducted on board boats like 420s and Lasers, the bigger craft offer a new dimension for his team.

"It means that we can get six or seven [team] members racing at the same time on the same boat," the JU coach said. …

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