THE PUFF TROPHY in honor of former Commodore Howard McMichael

The PUFF TROPHY is new this year and is to be awarded to the school that is runner up in the overall scoring of the regatta. Howie joined Larchmont Yacht Club in 1963. He served as a Trustee from 1981 through 1987, Regatta Chairman in 1995 and as Commodore from 1999-2000. He joined The Storm Trysail Club in 1970 and 2020, the year of his death, was his fiftieth year of membership.

Howie took over the leadership of McMichael Yacht Yards and Brokers in 1962 after his service in the US Army. Under his leadership, the company quickly grew to one of the country’s major yacht brokerages and yacht servicing companies. Over the years it sold Pearson, C&C, Ranger, Tartan, J-Boats, and MJM Yachts and was always among the top dealers for each line. Howie was well known and well respected by the management of each of these major manufacturers.

As a sailor, Howie’s skills were equal to those he brought to his business. He a was a regular in the IC Frostbite Fleet at Larchmont and would fly down to Florida at the end of the week to race in the SORC or some other Southern Ocean race. He raced to Bermuda, to Halifax, to Newport (from Annapolis), and did all the major Long Island Sound distance races and series, seldom finishing out-of-the-money. He also helped start the Larchmont Model Yacht Club which he usually dominated. Photography was another passion of Howie’s. While aboard PUFF, his Fortier 28, he always had a camera in-hand. Usually stationed beside the windward mark, some of the great LYC and Storm Trysail sailing images came through his lenses, some of which were featured in these pages.

2022 Gray Matter – US Coast Guard Academy
2023 TBD – University of Wisconsin

2023 Winners – University of Wisconsin / Photo: Steve Cloutier

One of Howie’s oldest friends, Joe Fontanella, shared a little history of the man and the story behind the trophy:

“In 1971, Howie was instrumental in forming a partnership which consisted of Howie, Butch Ulmer, Pat O’Neal and myself. We called ourselves the AMB Syndicate, AMB – Atsa My Boat. Through Howie’s effort, we acquired the first Ranger 33, designed by Gary Mull. We named it Puff-the magic dragon. It was good to have a boat with background music.

That year, we sailed Puff in most of the regattas from here to the Vineyard. She won her class in nearly every race. Most notably, she was the overall winner of Block Island Race Week.The AMB syndicate stayed together for four more years during which time we very successfully campaigned two more Puffs, a Ranger 37 and a Tartan 41. The Tartan 41 is represented on the trophy as a half hull.

Howie was a notable Commodore of Larchmont Yacht Club, a 50+ year members of Storm Trysail Club, and a great proponent of competitive sailing.

His dedication to sailing is exemplified by the continual McMichael sponsorship of this regatta.”