BUTCH ULMER JOINS NATIONAL SAILING HALL OF FAME

We are thrilled to announce that Charles “Butch” Ulmer, has been inducted into the 2024 Sailing Hall of Fame! Butch’s passion for sailing was nurtured from a young age, with his father, Charles “Buster” Ulmer, founding Ulmer Sails on City Island New York in 1946. This legacy continued as the company evolved into Ulmer/Kolius Sailmakers when John Kolius became a partner. Even after Kolius left, the company retained the iconic logo and rebranded to UK Sailmakers in 1987, honoring the Ulmer name.

Butch Ulmer onboard MORNINGSTAR, finishing the 1984 St. Pete to Boca Grande and Return race. The Sunshine Skyway is visible in the background. This was the first MORNINGSTAR, a 46-foot IOR racer built by German Frers for John Ambrose. Photo by Larry Moran.
Butch Ulmer onboard MORNINGSTAR, finishing the 1984 St. Pete to Boca Grande and Return race. The Sunshine Skyway is visible in the background. This was the first MORNINGSTAR, a 46-foot IOR racer built by German Frers for John Ambrose. Photo by Larry Moran.

Butch Ulmer’s journey in sailing began on Long Island Sound and flourished during his time at the United States Naval Academy. As a Midshipman, he honed his racing skills and achieved significant success, including winning the prestigious McMillen Cup. His sailing career includes competing in the 1964 Finn Class Olympic Trials and participating in numerous offshore races across Europe, South America, and the USA.

Butch Ulmer (left) with U.S. Naval Academy Sailing Squadron teammates Ed Lutz, and Jim Sand, early 1960.
Butch Ulmer (left) with U.S. Naval Academy Sailing Squadron teammates Ed Lutz, and Jim Sand, early 1960.

After serving as a naval officer, Butch joined his father’s sailmaking business in City Island, New York. By 1969, he took over as President and led the company to international prominence, eventually forming what we know today as UK Sailmakers. His innovative spirit brought about significant advancements in sail design, including the development of the radial head spinnaker, an industry game-changer.

Butch working on the floor of the UK Sailmakers Northeast’s New York location in 2017.
Butch working on the floor of the UK Sailmakers Northeast’s New York location in 2017.

Butch’s impact on sailing extends beyond his professional achievements. He has been a dedicated race officer for over thirty years, running championships across various classes and playing a pivotal role in the creation of Safety-at-Sea Seminars. His leadership and volunteer work have earned him numerous accolades, including his earlier induction into the Intercollegiate Sailing Hall of Fame in 1970.

A past commodore of the Storm Trysail Club, Butch has also served on the Fales Committee at the U.S. Naval Academy and as a Trustee of the Larchmont Yacht Club. His contributions to the sport have been recognized with many awards, and his legacy continues to inspire sailors worldwide.

Butch Ulmer leading a Racing Rules of Sailing seminar at the Chelsea Yacht Club in 2013.
Butch Ulmer leading a Racing Rules of Sailing seminar at the Chelsea Yacht Club in 2013.

Please join us in celebrating Butch Ulmer’s incredible contributions to sailing and his well-deserved induction into the Sailing Hall of Fame. His thoughtful approach, innovative spirit, and unwavering dedication make him a true legend in the sailing community.

View Butch’s 2024 inducetee profile here.

Heather Mahady
Heather Mahady

Heather Mahady is the General Manager of UK Sailmakers International. She is based on Vancouver Island in the Pacific Northwest, and is a passionate sailboat racer, sailmaker, and sustainability advocate.

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One comment

  1. Great to read this. As a young man in 1958 , my Dad , after my winning the Moth jr Nationals in Cape May NJ. (Using Ulmer sails . ). He took me to City Island to meet Mr. Ulmer, We were on our way home to Miami Florida.
    Your Dad gave me a new sail and used my name for advertising in Yachting Magazine. The Ulmer sail won the International jr championship and the Fla senior championship. What a nice memory to see the Ulmer family doing well!
    Thank you,
    George Spiecker
    I skill race PHRF today in my Alerion Express 28, at age 80. Piscataqua Sailing Association. Portsmouth, NH.

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