Ted Hood, 86, a yachtsman, sailmaker, yacht designer and builder who captained the winner of the 1974 America's Cup sailing race, died June 28 at a nursing home in Middletown, R.I., his son Richard said. He had had pneumonia and heart problems.

Considered an innovator in the industry, the elder Hood was a member of the America's Cup Hall of Fame and the National Sailing Hall of Fame, which called him the dominant force in sailing for nearly 20 years.

"When I was young, I thought if I can be a sailmaker, make $12,000 a year, sail and work on boats, I'll be happy," Hood said in his biography on the National Sailing Hall of Fame's website.

Frederick Emmart Hood was born in Beverly, Mass., in 1927. He attributed his love of sailing to his father and would sometimes row a boat to school, according to his family.

He served in the Navy during World War II before graduating from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. He began a career designing and building houses but on the side repaired sails in Marblehead, Mass. Dissatisfied with the strength and durability of the cotton sailcloth then available, he set out with his father to improve it. He began weaving his own sailcloth using man-made fibers such as Dacron.

In 1955, he founded Hood Sailmakers, which was for a time the world's largest sailmaker. Every yacht from 1958 to 1977 that won the America's Cup used a Hood sail, including the Courageous, which Hood skippered to victory in 1974.

In the mid-1980s, Hood sold his sailmaking business to concentrate on boat building and design through his Little Harbor Yachts company. One of his best-known boats, according to the National Sailing Hall of Fame, was the 60-foot American Promise, which the now-deceased Dodge Morgan used on his historic 150-day, 27,000-mile solo circumnavigation in 1985 and 1986.

Some 6,000 of Hood's boats are still sailing.

-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports

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