By Don Bedford
The Snipe Class lost one of its major contributors and sailors with the passing of Earl Elms last week. Earl helped to create the modern snipe with Herb Shear and Chubasco Snipes. Not only was he influential with hull design but with Elms Sails and Cobra Masts, he continued to move the class forward.
Though a good family friend since I can remember, I didn’t start sailing with Earl until I was about 11 or 12 years old. As Earl was such a big guy, he always had light kids crewing for him. Before me it was Mike Shear and Craig Martin and then Carl Hultgren after I “grew.”
(photo: SCIRA Commodore Ralph Swanson, National Champion Earl Elms, MBYC Commodore Paul Brady, and Crew Don Bedford … A few years later and Don Bedford held both titles of SCIRA Commodore and MBYC Commodore)
Together we won the US Nationals, all regattas in the Southern Circuit except the Bacardi (we hit “Elms Rock with the board) and then 4th in the US Nationals and a 4th in the Worlds in Malaga – maybe the highlight of my youth.
Our family was always friends with Susie, Jimmie, and Andy. My Mom even started a business with Susie. Earl was always working on something new. Something new to him or something he could improve on. He always had a project and never worked from plans, except the ones in his head. When he and Susie bought some property in Oregon he put together a barn, pier, wood cuter, and enumerable projects. Right to the end he was planning new designs for masts and booms for the junior boats around San Diego.
My wife had it right when she said, “Earl was big in every way, size and personality.” There is no other like him and he will be missed by countless people. Happy Sailing Earl!