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EIGHT BELLS - Arthur J. "Tuna" Wullschleger
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Nov 27, 2012, 10:27 AM

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Arthur J. "Tuna" Wullschleger (94 years) died Sunday, November 25, after a long and full life. Tuna was a longtime member of the New York Yacht Club, the Lauderdale Yacht Club and the Cruising Club of America. He was past Commodore of both the Larchmont Yacht Club, where he was a life member, having also served as Trustee and Treasurer, and the Storm Trysail Club, and was part of the group that founded STC's biennial Block Island Race Week. Tuna was also a past member of a number of other yacht clubs around the world.

Raised in Larchmont, NY, he was a champion speed boat driver in college at Cornell University, and began frostbiting at Larchmont after his serving in the Navy in the Pacific during WWII. In addition to frostbiting, in the 1960s and 1970s, he raced his beloved mahogany-hulled yawl Elske with his late wife Diana ("Stork"), as well as Golliwog and Fire One in ocean and buoy races on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the late 1970s, he began his career as a sailing judge, an avocation to which he devoted himself until his death. He helped develop umpiring at the 1987 Maxi Series and at the 1988 Congressional Cup, and quickly helped the discipline adapt to include team racing, smaller keelboats and dinghies. For his service to the sport, Tuna was awarded the ISAF Silver Medal, US SAILING's Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy in 1998 and the Harman Hawkins Trophy in 2010.

US SAILING's Tuna Fund, which among things was designed to help attract younger umpires to the disciplines of match and team racing who might not have the financial resources, was launched in 2009. His long involvement with the America's Cup started in 1980 as part the support team for Ted Turner's Courageous campaign, and extended through to Operations Manager for the America II syndicate, for which he was awarded the New York Yacht Club Medal (1988) and an umpire for defender trials in San Diego in 1992.

He served as co-Chief or the Chief Judge for too many regattas to mention, and was looking forward to returning to Key West Race Week in January 2013 as Chief Judge Emeritus. He was a mentor for countless competitive sailors, judges, and umpires around the world - a role he relished and for which he will be fondly remembered. -- Patricia A. O'Donnell


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Nov 28, 2012, 9:28 AM

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From William Sandberg:
A wise person once said that nobody is irreplaceable. That person never met Arthur Wullschleger. Patty O'Donnell's beautifully written piece captured the essence of this very special man (Eight Bells, Scuttlebutt 3726), but I'd like to add a little known fact.

While I'm sure he occasionally accepted a drink, meal or even a hotel room on a rare occasion, he almost always paid his own way to and at every regatta. Granted he was successful enough in business to have the wherewithal to do so, but I suspect if he did not have two nickels he would have done the same.

Arthur ran the best protest room I have ever seen. You quickly learned that you better have your facts straight or you were toast. Long drawn out hearings were not his forte; he cut to the chase and moved on.

I know of no one who was as universally loved, admired and respected as Arthur. I'm sure I join with sailors around the world in saying "thank you Tuna for all you did. Our sport is better because of you. There will never be another like you."


From Louay Habib:
I had the pleasure to meet Tuna at this year's BVI Spring Regatta. He may have been in his 90s but he still had all his marbles intact.

He told me about the first use of on-the-water umpires in the America's Cup. He said prior to that, every night, the teams were in the protest room until the early hours and were not getting much sleep. So on-the-water umpires were introduced to stop that.

Tuna was a guy who liked things settled on the water. I heard he could be a hard man to impress in a protest room, especially if you were trying to win a protest on a technicality and that is something we should all appreciate.

Rest in Peace.


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Nov 29, 2012, 5:39 AM

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From Todd R. Berman:
How sad to hear of the passing of "Tuna" Wullschleger. As a Long Island Sound sailor since the early 70's, all I can say is that nobody gave back more volunteer time to our sport.

As a youth sailor in the 70's and 80's I can remember that "Tuna" was there, giving his time. At collegiate events in the 80's and professional sailing in the early 90's "Tuna" was there - giving back. Now sailing PHRF as a middle age man, he was there again, giving his time at events like Block Island Race Week.

"Tuna", I'll raise a glass to you after the Around The Island Race at BIRW next June. Thanks for a lifetime of service.


From Martha Parker, Team One Newport:
I am very sad to hear of Tuna's passing. I had such fond memories of his raspy voice recounting many vivid stories and his warm smile.

Tuna always took time to sit down and go over any question you might have. I remember the 1988 Congressional Cup when we first experimented with on-the-water judging (the term we used back then). We would come in after racing and talk with all the judges about their calls; it was a great learning experience for all.

Thank you Patti and Bill for your wonderful words and THANK YOU Tuna for many fond memories and your thoughtful words of wisdom that you always had for me! I know that you're in heaven telling many stories and we will surely miss you.




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Nov 30, 2012, 6:18 AM

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From Talbot Wilson:
What is there to say about Tuna Wullschleger (Eight Bells, Scuttlebutt 3726)? A special friend and a mentor in the way of rules? He made us all follow the gentleman's side of sailing and we will all miss his guidance of our sport.


From Peter W Grimm, Sr:
I had the pleasure of working with Tuna for about 40 years - Block Island RW, Antigua Sailing Week for the 32 years I was PRO. Bermuda Race, Key West Race, America II AC, etc. Tuna and his wife Dianna (Stork) were loved and respected by all.

He spoke fluent French and on one occasion when I was on a jury with him in Antigua, the "inmates" as he referred to all competitors were testifying in broken English but speaking to each other in French. As they were "prepping" their statements, Tuna suddenly rattled off some French ... CASE CLOSED! I could go on literally forever regaling Tuna stories and Tunaismd!!

He was a "ONE OFF", and a close friend! He will be missed.


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Dec 3, 2012, 7:44 AM

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From Forrest Williams:
My Tuna Wullschleger story happened at Key West 6+ years ago. At a leeward mark rounding, the boat behind our J/109 sticks his sprit under our lifeline and turns our wheel (and nearly our helmsman) into a pretzel. That night we're filling out the protest form and we see Tuna walk into the jury room to hear the protests. Our crew boss, Gary LeDuc (a legend in his own right), gets a glint in his eye and says to "go get the wheel". He struts into the room with the wheel over his shoulder, Tuna looks up, points his finger at Gary and booms, "You win!" Shortest protest in history.

He will be missed.


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Dec 3, 2012, 9:03 AM

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From T.J. Perrotti, Perrotti Performance Design:
Years back, fresh out of naval architecture school, I had the great fortune to sign up with the NYYC’s “America II” 12-meter America’s Cup team, managed by Arthur “Tuna” Wullschleger (Eight Bells,Scuttlebutt 3726). I told my mother that I would be moving away from home. “How far?”, she asked. “Australia!”, I responded. She nearly died.

Fortunately, she found great comfort in Tuna’s warm and embracing friendship and concern for everyone on the team. He was our adopted father in so many ways. He ran a tight ship, mind you ... we all feared being the one to get caught not having swept up our work area all tidy at the end of a busy day! But he always had a warm smile and friendly arm around our shoulders. And he ALWAYS took great pride in wearing his red team sweater and floppy white “keep the flies away” hat.

We all happily honored him one evening at dinner on his birthday, with each one of us wearing our red sweater and floppy white hat in proud tribute to the man we admired so much. Tuna pushed us hard on-the-water, but he often let us squeeze in some time for a little Down Under fun. Like the time he chartered the only double-decker bus in Australia, and carted us all off to a medieval “wench waitress” dining hall in the hills outside of Perth. He enjoyed that romp immensely, as did all of us.

While America II didn’t quite meet our on-the-water racing expectations, along the road thereafter, our teammates have remained close friends. We have often gotten together for reunions, almost always supported (and graciously paid for) by Tuna. Just last year, we gathered at the Harbour Court in Newport where Tuna had a cocktail in tow, his smile aglow, and a room full of sailors and friends feeling very, very fortunate to have had known and befriended such a kind and giving man.

We’re grateful to have had that most recent opportunity (with a tip of the hat to Jake Farrell) to offer our thanks to Tuna. But it surely won’t be our last ... chances are, we’ll all find moments to reflect again on our happy times, and our fondness for the old man. He was, after all, our adopted Dad.


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