History

Arthur B. “Tim” Hanson’s
Sailing Biography

Contributions by Arthur D. McKey, former crew member, and Kim Hanson Willens, daughter

Arthur B. Hanson at the Helm of Foolscap

Arthur

Born December 8, 1916

Started sailing as a child at his family’s home on the Chesapeake Bay. Continued the sport during his years at Cornell University and the College of William and Mary.

In 1963 purchased Figaro III from William T. Snaith, a 47.5 foot Sparkman and Stephens yawl and renamed it Foolscap. Arthur B. Hanson’s nickname was “Tim” and he was known by sailors only as Tim.

He sailed every Newport-Bermuda Race from 1964 – 1982, four transatlantic races including, Bermuda to Travemunde, Germany; Bermuda to Vigo, Spain; Newport to Cork, Ireland; and Bermuda to Khristiansand, Norway. Also raced many Annapolis – Newport and Marblehead-Halifax races and Block Island Race Weeks.

Tim tested the first Electronic Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) on a private yacht during a transatlantic race, in the early 1970’s through his connections in the U.S. military.

A letter from Arthur to his crew:

“To All Who Would Be Concerned:

“Today, January 24, 1979, the LUTINE BELL rang for a great lady of the sea–FOOLSCAP.

“For more than fifteen years, this ship was an integral part of our family life. Her passing was like her living. She was a lady to the end.

“She had been through four days of gales attempting to reach Las Palmas in the Canaries where she was planning to be sailed to Antigua. Toward the end of the four-day gale, the winds came on hurricane strength dead out of the Northwest and half filled her cabin. With short crew, the lady made for the beach and placed the crew ashore near Tan-Tan Morocco, approximately 250 miles dead east of Las Palmas. She was so close, but yet so far!

“By the means of Very pistol, the crew was able to signal their plight and natives pulled them ashore through the raging surf. Shortly after their rescue, the hull shattered, but not until she had taken care of her humans.

“Personally I have lost a child. On the other hand, I can only admire her way of going and thank God that she was never faced with being a worm-eaten hulk unloved by anyone.

“She was a great ship, beautifully designed, who crossed the North Atlantic in seven ocean races in all of which she placed well. She participated in every Bermuda race from 1956 through 1978 and countless others.

“She was a thing of beauty and joyous to behold.

“I salute her!”

Arthur B. Hanson

Foolscap II was a 40-foot Gulfstar formerly owned by Ted Hood. This boat was sailed in the 1980 and 1982 Bermuda races.

Tim was a member of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Gibson Island Club and Gibson Island Yacht Squadron. He headed the Washington, D.C. law firm established by his father in 1932 and achieved the rank of Major General in the USMC Reserve.

Art McKey recalled, “I sailed with General Hanson on three Newport-Bermuda races and several return trips from Bermuda to Gibson Island. A most memorable event occurred in July 1986 on the return trip from Bermuda to the U.S. following the Newport-Bermuda race. Foolscap in calm conditions, was hit by an 80-knot microburst at dawn at the “Western Wall” of the Gulfstream. The yacht was knocked down for several minutes. I can attest that General Hanson’s strict safety procedures (i.e. safety harnesses attached at all times at sea and sharpened rigging knives) saved the ship, mast and the watch on deck. We were able to cut the sheets and right the boat without damage.”

Arthur B. “Tim” Hanson passed away July 1, 1989.

Arthur B. Hanson is memorialized in three ways:

  • The US SAILING Hanson Rescue Medal was established.
  • A Chair was endowed at the College of William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law in the Institute of the Bill of Rights.
  • A new wing of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research was dedicated “Hanson Hall” in recognition of his love of the sea, Bermuda and Bermudians.