The 20-foot Narrasketuck, a one-design, centerboard sloop first appeared on Great South Bay in 1935. The ‘Tuck easily recognized by the red, Indian-head insignia on her sail, originated when a group of sailing enthusiasts from the newly founded Narrasketuck Yacht Club in Amityville wanted more competitive racing in a one-design rather than racing in handicap classes. These club members sought a new boat design that would be especially suited to shoal water and be within financial reach of its members.
Wilbur F. Ketcham, a local builder, submitted his half model of a high performance planning boat based on the Star in 1934. Ketcham, an experienced bayman and self taught boat builder, built the first boats with cedar planks over oak ribs and decided to use a Marconi rig rather than the typical gaff rig, and a swept back centerboard to prevent fouling by seaweed. Club members accepted the design and the fleet grew rapidly with six boats built by Ketcham by 1936. Ketcham built his own boat, Defiance, reserving his lucky number 7 for it. Defiance is on view at The Long Island Maritime Museum.
By 1937 other boat builders among them Asa Smith and Charles Axtmann were building the ‘Tuck. Sailor “Cappy Arink” won the ‘Tuck class in the 1938 Race Week. Fleets grew over the length of the bay and a class association separate from the Narrasketuck Yacht Club was formed to govern the class in 1945, with Wilbur Ketcham elected Commodore.
As the number of Narrasketucks grew and declined several times over the years different actions were undertaken. The number of ‘Tucks racing in Race Week grew to 52 split into two divisions in 1948. Louis Delafield, Doug Westin, Ted Everitt, and George Palmer gained notoriety as competitors in the class. After a decline in the number of boats racing in 1968 the class allowed plywood construction of the boat with John Titterington, Glenn and Dianne Schmidt building the first three. Frank St. John became competitive in the class. Plywood construction increased the number of boats, however once again the number of ‘Tucks racing gradually declined and the class allowed the building of fiberglass boats in 1974. Glenn Schmidt and Dave Faber built and launched the first fiberglass ‘Tuck in 1975. Dave MacDonell and Bob Grover were competitive in the class.
As the Narrasketuck proved to be a rugged and lively performer on the bay, so did its designer Wilbur F. Ketcham, who continued to race with the class, winning Queen of the Bay in 1961 just before his 79th birthday, and racing in the Narrasketuck Fall Series until he was eighty-four!