Premiere Racing lost three long-time, valuable members of its race committee team over the course of 2012. Peter Craig, Jeanne Kleene and everyone else associated with the annual race week off Key West mourned the deaths of Arthur “Tuna” Wullschleger, Richard “Dick” Chesebrough and Dave Shaffer.
“It was an unusual and sad offseason for Premiere Racing. It’s tough to lose three of our really good, very prominent volunteers in one year,” said Craig, president of Premiere Racing.
Arthur “Tuna” Wullschleger
Wullschleger, who earned the moniker “Captain Tuna,” died November 25 in Plantation, Florida at the age of 94, having enjoyed a very full and rich life. He was the operations manager of three America’s Cup syndicates, a renowned international judge and race administrator, past commodore of both the Larchmont Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club and successful offshore racer aboard his yawl Elske.
Wullschleger was a founder of Block Island Race Week and jury chairman for Key West Race Week since its inception in 1988. Craig met Wullschleger when he took over as Key West event chairman in 1994 and said “Tuna” became a mentor and friend.
“Tuna was known around the world as one of the best regatta organizers and jury chairs,” Craig said. “He was a unique individual who helped make events work. He always put together a quality international jury for this regatta and his reputation was impeccable.”
Richard “Dick” Chesebrough
Chesebrough passed away January 23 at the age of 81 after a long battle with lung cancer. “Cheese” grew up in Stonington, Connecticut, a coastal town co-founded by one of his ancestors. He attended Massachusetts Maritime Academy and enjoyed a 20-year Naval career. In 1977, Dick was asked to pilot the chase boat for the America’s Cup defender, Enterprise. He went on to drive chase boats for Cup winner Freedom (1980) as well as contenders Liberty (1983) and Stars & Stripes (1987).
Chesebrough, who resided in Laconia, New Hampshire, then became a certified US SAILING umpire and judge, working many major national and international regattas primarily as a mark boat operator. He volunteered in Key West for nearly 20 years.
“Cheese did an extraordinary job with setting marks. There has never been a more experienced mark boat guy,” Craig said. “You would always see Cheese at the equipment trailer helping out in any way possible, both on the front and back ends of the regatta.”
Shaffer passed peacefully at his home in Toledo, Ohio at the age of 70. Long active in sailboat racing, Shaffer was a member of North Cape Yacht Club and St. Petersburg Yacht Club as well as past commodore of Inter-Lake Yachting Association. He was a US SAILING delegate as well as a US SAILING certified national race officer and senior judge.
Shaffer also handled mark boats for Premiere Racing during his decade as a volunteer in Key West. Dave and wife Barbara were a true team who made many friends within the Premiere Racing family with their wonderful demeanor and warm smiles.
“You wouldn’t know if Dave was a member of the shore side or on-water team because he did whatever was necessary. He was always hanging around asking ‘What else can I do.’ The world could use more people like Dave Shaffer,” Craig said.
Barbara Shaffer remains a volunteer with Premiere Racing and is serving as Division 2 on-water scorer for Quantum Key West 2013. “Dave truly enjoyed being part of the team at Key West. He was happy to help in any capacity and always came away feeling that his contributions had made a difference,” Barbara said.