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Blondie Hasler

Blondie Hasler

An un-inherited love of the sea began for Blondie Hasler at an early age and developed quickly into a life-long passion. Mixed with this was an inquiring inventive mind and an adventurous, free spirit unable to accept the status quo.
Blondie’s sailing fame took off in 1932, the year he was commissioned into the Royal Marines, when he sailed a fourteen-foot dinghy single-handed from Plymouth to Portsmouth and back. His military prowess was also proven early in life when, as a result of serving in Norway in 1940, he was appointed an OBE, mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Croix de Guerre. In 1941 he considered taking the war to the enemy by stealth rather than by force and wrote a paper suggesting the use of canoes and underwater swimmers. His ideas were tested in 1942 at Bordeaux, after which he was known to his extreme embarrassment, as the Cockleshell Hero. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross.
In January 1944 he transferred to Ceylon to train ‘Special Forces’ against the Japanese in Burma and, by the war’s end, had dispatched 173 raids against the enemy. On his return Blondie was responsible for establishing the Royal Marines Special Boat Service as it is recognised today, before retiring with ill health.

In 1946 Blondie owned the race-winning yacht Tre Sang but the next year his sailing changed to cruising in Petula, on board which he wrote the standard-bearer of yachtsman’s pilots; Harbour and Anchorage’s of the North Brittany Coast.
His writing then branched into a play that was performed – with national reviews – in Dundee. Overriding all this was a desire to design and build the smallest yacht that could be sailed in safety and with the minimum of effort. To meet these twin ideas he produced the junk-rigged Jester and the servo pendulum self-steering gear. To publicise these ‘inventions’ he suggested a single-handed trans-Atlantic race that was held in 1960. Blondie came second but it was his performance that caught the sailing public’s eye; beginning a major revolution in ocean cruising and racing.
His character also had it’s humorous side as seen in his search for the Loch Ness monster and some of his more outlandish adventures. Towards the end of his life he lived in great contentment in Scotland where organic farming and the reinvention of agriculture methods and implements took charge.
He died in 1987.

Copyright © Ewen Southby-Tailyour (from Ewen Southby-Tailyour's book Blondie)

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