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Pioneer Yacht Manufacturer Dies

May 1, 2000

STUART, Fla. (AP) _ Pioneer yacht manufacturer and offshore powerboat champion Richard Bertram has died from complications related to Parkinson’s disease.

He was 84 when he died Friday.

Bertram popularized the now standard V-type hull that allows boats to cut through rough waters. He was competing in the 1958 America’s Cup trials when he noticed a small boat slicing through the choppy waters.

Intrigued by the boat’s V-shaped bottom, Bertram tracked down the designer and asked him to build a larger version so he could commute from his Coconut Grove waterfront home to his office in downtown Miami.

When the 30-foot ``Moppie″ was finished, Bertram entered the boat in the 1960 Miami-Nassau race. The boat broke the course record and beat the nearest competitors by two hours.

``Moppie″ was then featured in many newspaper and magazine articles, and boaters asked for replicas. That’s when Bertram started his Miami business, building luxury cruising yachts and sports-fishing boats.

His clientele included Aristotle Onassis, the Aga Kahn, King Hussein of Jordan and Prince Bertil of Sweden.

The sailor’s love affair with boating began on New Jersey’s Barnegat Bay, where his family owned a summer home. At 8, he sailed his first vessel. He won his first race at 14, and as a student at Cornell founded the school’s yacht club and skippered two consecutive championship teams.

Bertram is survived by his wife, Franchesca Morales Bertram; five daughters, five sons and a stepson; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete.

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