The man whose company once produced canvas for Nelson is dead

Legendary sailmaker Colin Ratsey, one of the most prominent yachtsmen of his generation, has died in Vero Beach, Florida, after a brief illness. He was 75. Ratsey, who was born in New Rochelle in 1927, was the first American-born member of his family to serve as president of Ratsey & Lapthorn Sailmakers.

The firm, whose sails adorned Lord Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar as well as numerous America’s Cup contenders, was founded in England in 1690. Ratsey was the sixth generation of his family to work at the company loft.

In addition running to the traditional family business, Ratsey was an acclaimed competitor. Among his achievements were winning the prestigious Bermuda Race, completing numerous Trans-Atlantic races and serving as a crew member when the 12-meter Columbia successfully defended the America’s Cup in 1958. He also served as Commodore of the American Yacht Club and was a member of the New York Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club.

He leaves four children, Scott Ratsey of Vero Beach, Florida, Cynthia Ratsey Young of Rye, New York, Colin David Ratsey and Jane Ratsey Williams of Greenport, New York and 8 grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Joan Ratsey Darling, of Weston, Vermont.