This magnificent sailboat inspired a frenzy of boat building on the West River. In the 1930s, the Vanity reigned supreme in the hotly-contested 20-foot open class, a free-for-all sailboat race where the only requirements were that boats be sail-powered and less than 20-feet long.
The five years spanning from 1934 until 1938, the Vanity held onto its winning streak. Many sought to dethrone her — seeking to match her speed with all kinds of boats, but [unreadable], until a Galesville boatbuilder took up the challenge.
Captain Dick Hartge would not give up. Four times he designed and built a boat in hope of winning a race against the Vanity. Four times he lost. En route home from his latest defeat, he came up with a new design — his fifth try. The next morning found Captain Dick in his shop feverishly carving and recarving a model of his new creation. By the afternoon, he had a half-hull design of the boat that would beat the Vanity.
With a teenage skipper at its helm, Captain Dick's Ranger — the first Chesapeake 20 — raced across the finish line of a three-mile course, two seconds ahead of the Vanity. For the first time in five years, millionaire Washingtonian Ozzie Owings and his boat, the Vanity, had lost — the victory sweet
for local boatbuilder Dick Hartge and John Harding, the Ranger's young captain. They celebrated with ice cream at Zang's Pier in Galesville.
With the race, the Chesapeake 20 was born, and Captain Dick went on to build more than 50 boats using the design that beat the Vanity.
I really wanted, once, just to beat the Vanity...like everybody else.
— John Harding, owner/captain of the Ranger, age 78 (1998)
Built from 1933 to 1934 by John Gregory, Shady Side
Designed by Charles Mower, America's Cup designer, New England
Owned by John Gregory, Shady Side and
Osborne Owings, Washington, D.C.
Gift of Steuart Chaney