Impeccably researched and colorfully told, Vencedor is a fascinating account of not just a racing sailboat storied for its exploits and victories, but of the man who built it: Danish American naval engineer Thorvald Julius Schougaard Poekel. Vencedor would distinguish itself in a series of highly competitive races between the United States and Canada on what has been called “the great unsalted sea”—the Great Lakes—that led to the creation of Canada’s Cup, one of the most prestigious yachting events in the world.
Vencedor, a 65-foot sloop, was built by the Racine Boat Manufacturing Company, which had hired Poekel away from the renowned Herreshoff Boatyard in Bristol, Rhode Island, where he had been the chief draftsman, working alongside Nathanael Greene Herreshoff and his brother.
Under this magnetic and revealing account of a bygone era and heated competition lies a mystery. During Poekel’s nine-year tenure with the Herreshoffs, the company made some of the fastest and most famous yachts in the world. Although “Capt. Nat” signed almost every construction plan alone, the name “T. Sch. Poekel” appears on several. In Vencedor, Thorvald Poekel’s great-grandson, gives credence to the theory that his ancestor really was an unsung Herreshoff hero.
Charles Axel Poekel Jr. is a graduate of the George Washington University and Washington College of Law of American University. He is a former member of the New Jersey State Historical Commission and is chairman of the Elisha Kent Kane Historical Society of New York City. He is a member of the National Maritime Historical Society, the Association of Yachting Historians, the Sippican Historical Society, and the Sailing Museum of Newport, Rhode Island. His other books are West Essex and Babe & The Kid: The Legendary Story of Babe Ruth and Johnny Sylvester. Together with his wife, Lynn, and flame point Himalayan Mr. Whiskers, he alternates his time between Marion, Massachusetts, and Palm Beach, Florida. He is the great-grandson of Thorvald Julius Schougaard Poekel. Visit him online at www.charlesaxelpoekel.com.