1958 - Americas crew of "VIM" (Richard Bertram - 2nd from Left)
How It All Began — The History
By Richard Bertram
It was about 11 AM, July 16, 1958. The open ocean off Newport was dotted with boats, power and sail. Committee boats, yacht tenders, and the sleek 12 Meters, vying for selection to defend the Americas Cup.
The wind was blowing a good twenty knots plus out of the southeast. Seas were running six feet or more. Great weather for 12 Meters and the America's Cup, but a little rough for the wallowing powerboats.
I was on Vim, in charge of the foredeck crew, and we were waiting for the preparatory gun. In a situation like this racing crews are usually concentrate so completely on the boat and their jobs it really takes something special to divert their attention. Well that, something very special came hurtling across those six foot crests. It was Ray Hunt's deep vee prototype. She was there as tender for the 12 Meter Easterner, also designed by Ray, and this was her first appearance. She picked a great time for it.
Knifing through those six foot seas at thirty knots, this little 23 footer stopped every sailor in the fleet in his tracks. No one had ever seen powerboat performance to approach it. I know I hadn't.
Before the preparatory gun sounded, I made a mental note to corner Ray after the race and get to the bottom of this amazing exhibition.
I found that "getting to the bottom" was the right place to get the answer. Ray explained that this new design was deep vee the entire length of the bottom. Other boats had had vee bottoms before, of course, but the vee and the deadrise diminished to a flat, planning surface at the transom. ("Deadrise"), is the angle the bottom makes with horizontal.
Ray figured if he carried the deadrise and the vee clear to the transom, pounding would be practically eliminated. He also put longitudinal strakes on the bottom to give lift and throw spray out flat to keep the boat dry.
He figured right. A demonstration ride the next day proved it. She ran straight and true, smoothing the seas cushion-soft, she performed down sea as well as she ran it them. When we returned to the dock we were as dry as when we left. I commissioned Ray to design a 31 footer for me on the spot.
The Bertram History
Travel back in time with Bertram Yachts
Bertram enlists Sam Griffith to Race the prototype
The prototype Moppie is entered into the Miami - Nassau Race with Dick and Sam as co drivers and Charlton Mitchell, navigator. Moppie wins handily beating the second place Hunt Design Aqua Hunter by 2 hours. The third place boat finished the next day. It was the roughest race in the events history and Moppie set a new course record. Read the following accounts from the April 1960 Sports Illustrated Article 'Glory Be To Power' and the June 1960 Boats Article 'The World's Most Rugged Race'.
The prototype was sanded smooth, turned into a plug, and a mold was cast. Bertram Yacht is born. Bertram started making Fiberglass 31's in Hialeah. The first fiberglass Bertram, Glass Moppie is christened in December 1960 by Pauline "Moppie" Bertram at Richard Bertram & Co. yard across the street from the future home of Bertram Yacht on 36 Street.
Glass Moppie is christened by Pauline "Moppie" Bertram at Richard Bertram & Co. yard
The 31 debuts at the New York Boat Show
The new 31 will comes in three models, V-31 Convertible Sport Cruiser with fold down Bimini Top as standard equipment, V-31 Hardtop Sport Cruiser, and the V-31 Fly Bridge Sport Cruiser. "The Hydrolift Hull' is marketed as "The Greatest Breakthrough in Hull Design in 30 Years".
Glass Moppie wins the 1961 Miami Nassau Race in 4 hours and 20 min. Shattering the old race record. Conditions in 1961 were much calmer but it showed the boat was a capable speedster in flat waters. Glass Moppie went on to win the Miami/Bimini/Miami and the Round Long Island Race.
Bertram Yacht becomes a division of the Nautec Corporation, a subsidiary of Motor Products Corporation. The capital infusion would go to fund Research and Development of new models, ramp up production, which included a new state of the art fiberglass boat building factory. Soon after ground was broken on a new production facility on the Miami River.
31 Express Cruiser in NY Boatshow uplighting underneath to show the V-Haul.
The Bertram 31 Hard Top Sports Cruiser is introduced.
The new, state of the art production facility officially opens November 8.
John Bakos wins the Miami-Nassau race in a 25 Bertram "Aokone". Bertram and Griffith finished second in Blue Moppie in a calm race. Read Yachting magazines account of the 1962 Miami-Nassau Race.
Blue Moppie wins the Charles F. Chapman Trophy for the 1257 mile run from Miami to New York in 38 Hours and 33 min.
The 31 debuts at the New York Boat Show
The Bertram 38, Bertram 31 Flybridge Cruiser (Enclosed Cabin), and Bertram 25 Express Cruiser (Four Sleeper) are introduced at the New York Boat Show. Five boats were sold in the first two hours of the show!
The first production line up and running in the new facility is The Bertram 25 and then 20. After the 31 line is moved from Hialeah and up and running smooth they are producing a 31 every other day and a 25 every day.
A Bertram 25 is displayed in the window of the RCA Exhibition Hall in Rockefeller Center, 5th Ave, New York City.
Odell Lewis wins the Miami Nassau Race in a 25 Bertram "Mona Lou"
Read the Sports Illustrated article May 6 1963 about the race "Ruffled Race Across a Pond"
Blue Moppie, driven by Griffith and Bertram, finishes second in The Cowes Torquay Race by 17 seconds. Yo-Yo, a 25 Bertram, was third
Bertram 20 Production line starts next to the 25 line.
Richard Bertram wins The Sam Griffith Memorial, Viareggio-Bastia-Viareggio Race, and finishes 2nd in Cowes-Torquay Race, in Lucky Moppie. The Cowes-Torquay race was won by another 31' Bertram, Surfrider by The Gardner Brothers of Yardley Cosmetics. Bertram thought he had won the race as he crossed the finish line first. That was before he realized he had crossed on the wrong side of the finish mark. By the time he circled back to re cross the line the Gardner Brothers had crossed and Lucky Moppie was relegated to second place. Charles Gardner race with Dick Bertram and Bobby Moore and is in the Viareggio Bastia photo above.
Ogden "Dinny" Phipps wins Miami Nassau Race in "Rum Runner". Richard Bertram is second in "Lucky Moppie". Third is Sir Max Aiken (Lord Beaverbrook) in a 38' Bertram Diesel powered "Vivacity".
Odell Lewis wins the Round Long Island Marathon, and Great Lakes Regatta in the 25' Bertram "Mona Lou".
Richard Bertram resigns as President of Bertram Yacht to return to running Richard Bertram & Company, Bertram Yachts longest and largest dealer.
Dave Foxmann becomes President of Bertram Yacht.
Richard Bertram is crowned 1965 World Offshore Powerboat Champion with the Brave Moppie. Designer Ray Hunt (his back to the camera) and his crew.
Bertram introduces the 31 Bahia Mar.
Brave Moppie (picture of BM jumping out of water with caption noting ray hunt on board) wins the Cowes Torquay Race and Miami-Key West Race and with points from other races Richard Bertram is crowned 1965 World Offshore Powerboat Champion winning the Sam Griffith Memorial Trophy for most points accumulated.
Brave Moppie shatters UIM World Diesel Speed Record at 57.7 mph. besting the old record of 42.3 mph. Click here to Preview the UIM Certificate Awarded to Richard Bertram.
Bertram 37 Salon Cruiser comes touted as the most livable Bertram to date.
Peter Rittmaster becomes President.
Bertram 37 Double Cabin is introduced.
Bertram Caribe 35 comes out. She is a six sleeper with a 4Kw generator.
The 20 Bertram Sportsman (center console) is introduced. The 20 sportsman was the first center console to enter the market. Another Bertram innovation leading the marine industry.
Zippe 25 Bertram wins The Catalina Challenge Cup.
Alimony III (ex Lucky Moppie) places second in the Long Beach - San Francisco Race.
Richard Bertram in My Moppie leads the first 100 miles of the inaugural Bahamas 500 before blowing an engine (This is the beginning of the era of the new 31-32 Bertram race boat designed by Russ Spect). Master Moppie with Peter Rittmaster, Sammy James, and Russ Specht Designer finished 5th after 14 grueling hours racing.
Bill Sirois drives Bertram 31 to win Hurricane Classic in St. Pete. in Sternwinder. She used Mercruiser Inboard/Outboard's hence the name Sternwinder. She was campaigned by the Mercruiser factory team.
Bertram 28 Baron is introduced.
The Bertram 28 Baron is the raciest of Bertram's non race boats. Despite being built as a production boat it has been used to race.
Bertram 20 Baron is also introduced.
Bertram/Nautec is acquired by Whittaker Corporation. Paul Schaffer becomes President.
Bill Sirois wins Hennessy Classic NY in 31 Bertram "Sternwinder".
Bill Sirois in "Sternwinder", a Bertram 31, finishes second in the 1968 Bahamas 500, Sternwinder misses first place by 5 seconds to Mona Lou after 500 miles of racing. Peter Rittmaster finishes 3rd in another Bertram "Master Moppie". Watch this movie of the 1968 Bahamas 500 race. There is some great footage of #90 "Sternwinder" neck and neck with Odell Lewis. Both boats were part of Carl Kiekhaefer's Mercruiser/Mercury factory team.
Don Pruett wins the Miami-Key West Race in 31 Bertram "Yellow Tornado".
Odell Lewis wins the Hurricane Classic in 31 Bertram "Mona Lou".
38 Sport fisherman introduced.
Bertram Marine is established as the Commercial Division of Bertram Yacht. 28's and 31's were used as patrol boats, police boats, Harbor Master, and utility boats like the photo above of a 31 assisting a dredging operation. 38's were used as patrol boats, pilot boats, US Customs Boats, fire boats. Bertram Marine also explored building some larger craft for military use.
Bertram Factory retires from racing but private individuals continue to rack up wins for Bertram.
Bill Wishnick wins the Houston Channel Derby in 31 Bertram "Boss O Nova".
Vincenzo Balestrieri wins the Imperia Italy Race in 31 Bertram "Red Tornado".
Vincenzo Balestrieri wins Santa Margherita Race in 31 Bertram "Red Tornado".
Francesco Cosentino wins The Naples Trophy in 31 Bertram "White Tornado".
Vincenzo Balestrieri wins The Rosa D' Oro Trophy (Italy to Yugoslavia) in 31 Bertram "Red Tornado".
Bill Wishnick wins Sam Griffith Memorial in 31 Bertram "Boss O Nova".
Peter Rittmaster wins The Hennessy Grand Prix, NY in 31 Bertram "American Moppie".
46 Bertram Convertible is introduced.
Bill Wishnick wins The Long Beach- Ensenada Mx. Race in 31 Bertram "Boss O Nova II".
Francesco Cosentino wins The Mobil Trophy (Cape Town S. Africa) in 31 Bertram "Red Tornado".
Bill Wishnick wins the Sam Griffith Memorial Race in "Boss O Nova II".
Doug Silvera wins The Bahamas 500 in 31 Bertram with 4 x 140 Mercury Outboards named "Quiksilvera".
Read MotorBoating Magazine August 1970 article about the 1970 Bahamas 500. Outboards ran away with the event this year. All the big inboard engine boats broke down early.
Bill Wishnick wins The Catalina Challenge in 31 Bertram "Boss O Nova".
Bobby Routboard wins The Leman Grand Prix (Switzerland) in 31 Bertram "Fino".
The 46 Convertible is crowned Queen of The New York Boat Show.
The 1000th Bertram is built! Most were 31's.
Dave Napier joins Bertram design department and begins with the 28.
28 sport fisherman is introduced.
Bertram 46 and 42 Motor yachts are introduced.
Bertram is one of the biggest yacht manufacturers in the world that included its own metal shop and the design and manufacture of its own fuel tanks trying to consolidate to in-house building.
The 46 Motor Yacht is Queen of The New York Show.
46 Bertram Convertible is tested with turbine power. The 46, named Whisper Power had enlarged air intake vents and was said to sound like a vacuum cleaner hence the name Whisper Power.
"Whittaker Moppie" begins Bertram Factory return to Offshore Powerboat Racing in a new 38 Bertram race boat. Sammy James and astronaut Gordon Cooper pilot the 90 MPH speedster to win the season opener Sea-Talk Jockey Club Race.
George Goode becomes president.
Sammy James wins The Sam Griffith Memorial in 38 Bertram "Whittaker Moppie".
James wins Key West Race in "Whittaker Moppie".
The 58 Motor Yacht, 42 Convertible, and 26 Sportfisherman come.
Wally Franz wins The Mar Del Plata Race (Argentina) in 38 Bertram "Pangare Gringo".
Franz wins The Punta Del Este Race (Uruguay) in 38 Bertram "Pangare Gringo".
Franz wins The Santos to Rio De Janiero Race (Brazil) in 38 Bertram "Pangare Gringo".
Franz wins The Key West Race in 38 Bertram "Pangare Gringo. These 4 wins combine to win the 1975 Offshore Powerboat World Championship for Franz and Bertram.
The 33 Sport fisherman is introduced and later that year the 33 Convertible.
The 26 Flybridge Sport Fisherman, 26 Hardtop, and 26 Sport Convertible (open) Come online.
Wally Franz wins Mar Del Plata in 38 Bertram "Pangare Gringo".
Franz wins BP South Africa Race in 38 Bertram "Pangare Gringo".
Franz wins Hennessy Gold Cup South Africa in 38 Bertram "Pangare Gringo".
Sandy Satullo wins Stroh Grand National in 38 Bertram "Copper Kettle".
Preston Henn wins The San Francisco Race in 38 Bertram "Streaker".
The 58 Bertram Convertible is introduced. She was unique at the time for having an aluminum superstructure to save weight.
Rocky Aoki of Benihana Japanese Restaurant fame wins The Mission Bay Offshore in 38 Bertram "Benihana".
Preston Henn wins the Swift Hurricane Classic in 38 "Bertram 49er".
Preston Henn wins Bacardi Trophy in "Bertram 49er".
Sandy Satullo wins The Strohs Gran National in 38 Bertram "Copper Kettle".
The 38 Bertram Convertible Mark III is reintroduced at the New York Boat Show. She is lighter, faster, and far more spacious than her predecessors. She is offered with a Veloci-Jet exhaust system.
Howard Quam wins The Lombardo/Halter Classic NY in 38 Bertram "Flap Jack".
Rocky Aoki wins the Atami Ocean Cup (Japan) in 38 Bertram "Benihana".
Bertram comes out with a 20th Anniversary Edition of the 31.
Bertram builds a new, taller building to build the 54.
Ted Toleman wins The San Feliu Race (Spain) in 38' Bertram "Toleman Group".
Nick Cripps wins The Costa Smeralda Race in 38 Bertram "Toleman Group".
Ted Toleman wins Viareggio-Bastia-Viareggio Race in 38 Bertram "Toleman Group".
Toleman wins Needles Trophy in 38 Bertram "Toleman Group".
Toshihiko Mihara wins Shodo-Shima Olive Cup in 38 Bertram "Benihana".
The 54 Bertram debuts to critical acclaim. She took two years of development, which included tank testing at Hovercraft Laboratories in England and 6 months of open ocean testing in the Gulf Stream off Miami.
Ted Toleman wins The BP Port Philip 250 (Australia) in 38 Bertram "Toleman Group".
Toleman wins The Mercury Trophy (Australia) in 38 Bertram "Toleman Group".
Bertram reintroduces an entry level 26 to market. The 26' Mark II Sport Convertible comes in two editions, Outboard and Inboard/Outboard.
Ted Toleman wins The Peter Stuyvesant Poole Race (England) in 38 Bertram "Peter Stuyvesant".
Toleman wins The Peter Stuyvesant Fowey Race (England) in 38 Bertram "Peter Stuyvesant".
Toleman wins The Peter Stuyvesant Great Yarmouth Race(England) in 38 Bertram "Peter Stuyvesant".
Toleman wins The Camden Trophy (England) in 38 Bertram, "Peter Stuyvesant".
Toleman wins London-Calais-London Race in 38 Bertram, "Peter Stuyvesant".
Toshihiko Mihara wins The Atami Cup in 38 Bertram "Benihana".
Ted Toleman wins The Peter Stuyvesant Brighton Race (England) in 38 Bertram "Peter Stuyvesant".
Bertram introduces the 30'. It is offered in two models, Flybridge Cruiser and Express Cruiser. This boat is racier looking. Designer Napier calls the look "Wedgy"! She features a much nicer interior in response to market demands.
Whittaker, in a restructuring move combined its Bertram and Trojan brands into a separate company, Bertram-Trojan Inc. Whittaker sells 45 % of the new company to Investcorp for $70 million, keeps 45%, and sells the remaining 10% to Bertram-Trojan Inc. executives.
The Bertram "38 Special" is introduced. Originally the 38 is known as the Bahia Mar model but Bertram management, in an effort to change up its marketing decides to name it the 38 Special. In June 1985 Power and Motoryacht, additional marketing plays off Star Wars sequel with a "38 Special" article titled "The Empire Strikes Back".
Bertram Yacht celebrates a record 33 retail Bertrams sold during the 1985 Miami International Boat Show.
28 Bahia Mar is introduced.
Bertram celebrates 25th year Anniversary with a Silver Anniversary 31 Bertram.
37 Bertram is announced. It is the first of the new sleeker styled Bertrams designed by Dave Napier.
1986 is a record year for Bertram Yacht. Starting in January with the New York Boat Show. Bertram sold two 28's, a 31, three 33's, five 37's, two 42's, and five 46's. In February at the Miami Boat Show Bertram retailed 54 boats! That amounted to over 13 million dollars of retail sales, none to dealer stock, in 6 days!
46 Bertram Mark III.
33 Sportfisherman is reintroduced as a 33 Mark II.
50 Bertram is introduced. It comes as a 3 stateroom galley up model, or 2 stateroom galley down. The 50 is the first Bertram to offer MAN German diesels as an option. Boating Magazine dubs the 50 as "the slickest Bertram yet"
Bertram announces plans for a 43' Bertram with the same updated styling of the 37 and 50
Bertram announces plans for a 72 Sportfisherman.
Investcorp buys out remaining Whittaker position. Investcorp hires Goldman Sachs to prepare for an IPO of Bertram-Trojan. Oct. 19, 1987 "Black Monday" stock market crash which ends IPO plans.
The 43 Bertram is unveiled at the 78th New York Boat Show and stole the show.
Bertram is pumping boats out with two lines of 37's, two lines of 43's, and two lines of 50's running.
Bertram is the largest boat builder in Florida with 90 million in sales and 1000 employees
Investcorp announces it is selling Bertram to a New York based investment company called G.L. Ohrstrom.
The Bertram 72 is introduced at the Miami Boat Show. The boat featured a cored hull and was highly engineered with all major systems designed with back-up systems. She was built with a large yacht mentality.
The Bertram 60 is also introduced at the Miami Boat Show. She is based on the 54 platform and gains 3' in the salon and 3' below in stateroom area. The boat is powered by Detroit Diesel 16V-92's.
January 1, 1991 Federal Luxury Tax takes effect. Bertram along with every other boat builder is whacked. Net effect 500 jobs lost. Bertram-Trojan Inc. is heavily leveraged by G.L. Ohrstrom and is in default with Southeast Banks.
Bertram-Trojan Inc. files for Bankruptcy in April. Aqua Buoy acquires Trojan Assets. Gruppo Varasi, of Milan, Italy buys Bertram and the company emerges from bankruptcy in June. Gruppo Varasi injects 25 Million into Bertram and hires John Adams to run the company. Adams had previously run Hatteras. Adams hires Wes Dickman as senior VP of sales and marketing. Bertram is starting over, down to 30 employees from a high of 1,200 three years prior.
Bertram announces the first two models since 1991. The 36 and 46 Moppies are unveiled at the 1993 Miami Boat Show.
In August the Luxury Tax is repealed.
A redesigned 43 Convertible is introduced.
At the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in October, Bertram sells 18 boats.
Gruppo Varasi hires Carl Herndon and it is announced at the Miami Boat Show. Herndon initiates a complete re-do of the interior of each model.
The 30 Moppie is introduced. The boat was essentially a shrunk down version of a 54 Bertram. The thinking was to build an introductory boat for the market to attract younger people to the Bertram brand.
A four stateroom model of the 60 Bertram is introduced.
Bertram begins ad campaign: "The Dynasty Continues".
Bertram celebrates 35 years at the Miami Boat Show. Founder Richard Bertram is in attendance.
Herdon is out as president after a year in a dispute with ownership. Werner Kuhnke is brought in to run the company. Werner had been with Bertram from 1961-1976 and ran Bertram's largest dealer, Richard Bertram Yachts, for 15 years. This was a positive move for Bertram.
The 46 Convertible is introduced.
Bertram also introduces a 43 Moppie.
Bertram announces plans for a restyled 54. Same fantastic hull. New superstructure styling. The assurance was given to the public that "not a single change in the 54 hull, because you can't change perfection".
The 50 gets an updated styling treatment along with 900 Hp. DDEC 12V-71's.
The Bertram 36 Convertible is introduced. She is a nice Sportfish, family weekend cruiser built on the same hull as the 36 Moppie.
Bertram builds a 60 enclosed bridge. The first one goes to California and the next one to Thailand.
The Bertram 54 redux debuts at the Fort Lauderdale Show. The first Bertram with 3412 CATs is hull # 2. The market was hungry for this Bertram-Caterpillar combo.
Economic downturn in Italy pushes Gruppo Varasi to sells its subsidiary, Santavalaria, which owns Bertram to Teknecomp SpA (a publically traded Italian company). Teknecomp changes its name to Intek SpA. Intek replaces Kuhnke with Gianni Morace who had been CEO of Baglitto Shipyards for 5 years and Rodriguez Shipyards. After a few good years of stability with Kuhnke change is in the wind.
Intek sells Bertram to Ferretti SpA. Ferretti owns several brands besides Ferretti. Those included Riva, CRN, Pershing, Mochi, Itama, and Aprea Mar.
Ferretti's first Bertram model is the 390 which incorporates Zuccon styling. Some find the new look too indulgent for the American brand.
Next Ferretti/Bertram was a 510 based on the 50 Bertram hull. This was a three stateroom model with two heads. It was unique, at the time, in that the third stateroom had side by side births where everyone else was doing over/under bunks in the third cabin.
Bertram 60 gets redesigned window shape and they become frameless.
Richard Bertram passes away at 84.
Bertram introduces the 450, which later earns Boating Magazines "Boat of The Year".
Bertram announces at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show the 670 Bertram will debut for 2001 Bertram-Hatteras Shootout XXI.
The 670 debuts at The Bertram Hatteras Shootout and Later at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.
The Bertram 570 is introduced. She is a stretched 54 with a mawkish superstructure styled by Zuccon. She receives reengineering which included switching to a single amidships fuel tank. This boat ran best with C-32 Cats.
Bertram 630 is introduced. She featured a spiral stairwell to the flybridge with the big MTU engine package - the 630 runs 40 Kts.!
Bertram 570 "Tangled in Blue" wins the Bahamas Billfish Championship, A six tournament series run throughout the Bahamas.
Bertram introduces the 630 Enclosed Bridge.
The 360 Bertram Open and Express are introduced at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.
Bertram wins the Bertram-Hatteras Shootout XXVII after a ten-year drought.
Bertram receives the "2006 Manufacturer of the Year Award" from the South Florida Manufacturers Association.
Bertram gains National Marine Manufacturers Association certification.
Bertram 540 is introduced. She is the first Bertram with an aft galley.
The Bertram 800 is introduced. She is Bertram's biggest boat by far! Hull #1 goes to the Bahamas.
Bertram wins Bertram-Hatteras Shootout XXX.
Bertram won all categories at the 30th anniversary of the Bertram-Hatteras Shootout.
The Bahamas Billfish Championship saw its largest fish for that year weigh in at 597LBs. The Blue Marlin was caught aboard a 63ft Bertram named 'Full Time'.
Nov 6: The Bertram 35 was announced on the Friday at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
May: The Bertram 35 is set to be unveiled at Bertram's Sneak Peak Weekend in Maine to select clients.
August-September: The Bertram Perfect Days Tour commences. Both, a Bertram Moppie and Screaming Eagle will sail down the East Coast to the Bahamas.