Eight bells: Larry Cochran

John “Larry” Cochran passed away on May 5, 2019 at the age of 94. How sad that all of us couldn’t have met Larry, enjoyed his intelligence and quiet demeanor, and sailed with him at Sunfish regattas.

Fellow sailors used Larry as the yardstick to judge their position on the racecourse! “If you finished close to Larry,” said Paul Odegaard, “you were doing pretty well.”

Larry was a long-time Bolton Lake (CT) competitor. Employed at Pratt & Whitney in CT with a mechanical engineering degree from Texas A&M, Larry served as a consultant when it came to technical matters with the Sunfish. Larry championed the new design of the racing dagger board and spent endless hours researching hydrodynamics and consulting with experts on the design. He followed the design with many on-the-water testing sessions, culminating with the efficient final product that we all use today.

In addition to his engineering contributions to the Class, Larry took on the task of incorporating the Class and getting tax exempt status, a pain-staking and detailed process that took months. To this day, Rob Davis in Rehoboth Bay, DE, continues to keep us incorporated thanks to Larry’s initial efforts.

This was in addition to serving on a newly appointed 6-person working party in the 80’s with Lee Parks, Will White, Paul Odegaard, Bob Heckman and Gordie Geick to change the Class from a manufacturer-run Class into a sailor-run organization. It took more than a year to rewrite the Class Rules and By-Laws that met IYRU (International Yacht Racing Union) rules. This process involved coordinating efforts between the Class, the builder (Alcort) and IYRU and then recruiting sailors both nationally and internationally to take on the responsibilities of running the Class. Larry’s efforts along with those who served on the committee can never be repaid. A mere “Thank You” seems so insignificant, especially if you realize the amount of work, dedication and sacrifices it took to make this happen.

(L to R) Polly Odegaard, Jane Cochran, Don Bergman (standing), Jean Bergman, Larry Cochran, Carolyn DeWolf – taken at the1977 Worlds in Nassau. (Photo courtesy of Paul Odegaard).

Larry was also involved with the many Class rule changes over the years, most of which are still in effect today. But his work in helping the Sunfish Class gain “International” status is ranked as one of his most significant accomplishment for the Class.

Paul Odegaard expressed our fond farewell the best:

Class members will always be indebted to Larry for his love, dedication and efforts to externalize our beloved Sunfish …

Larry, may you sail into eternity with fair winds and favorable shifts. We all miss you so!”

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