Hearing that two demolition professionals have teamed up to race and cruise sailboats, most people’s first visualization would be chaotic scenes from “Demolition Derby,” followed closely by a couple of Sailing World’s wildest “Dr. Crash” features. If the two sailors were our newest fleet’s President, Patti Schwab, and her husband Mark Schwab, “most people” would be adrift.
From the time of their meeting while she was working for his father’s Chicago based demolition company until they played key roles as wife and husband in the founding of the Rhodes 19 Class Association’s newest fleet in New Rochelle, NY, their relationship has been noted for positive results. At the start, Mark was the experienced sailor, having, among other things, single handed the Atlantic in Wreckless, a S&S 47 at the age of twenty-eight. Playing catch up, Patti, at twenty-six, began sailing classes in Vangard Club Trainers at Chicago’s Columbia Yacht Club.
This introduction gave her enough confidence to join Mark in sailing his C&C 40, “Southern Cross,” back to Chicago from the Mackinaw Island Race. The trip was a success in spite of one of Lake Michigan’s wilder storms that Mark characterized as “I H N SW” (I have never seen worse). At the tender age of twenty-six with but a few sailing lessons behind her, Patti’s only negative reaction was a short cry.
Chicago sailing experiences also included a Flying Scot, number 2437-Serendipity, as well as an initial awareness of our Class. During this enjoyable time, they were building a relationship in business and romantically. Patti began working for Mark and before long they were partners in demolition and marriage.
A Consolidated Edison demolition project in Queens took them to New York in 1991 and they have been there since. Rocket Man, an Impulse 21, provided an introduction to East Coast sailing. They continued racing and cruising in an Ericson 35, Flash Gordon. Four years ago, their Huguenot Yacht Club at New Rochelle, NY began searching for a club fleet boat. The Rhodes 19 was chosen.
In today’s world of chaotic work schedules, one of the primary requirements for such a boat was an ability to be raced by two people. Our boat was the right size. Other factors included wide spread availability, cost and fun. Also, Patti and Mark remembered the Nineteen’s comfort and seaworthiness from a vacation at the Bitter End Yacht Club, BVI.
The decision made, acquisition quickly proceeded. The fleet’s starter boats ranged from old wrecks to well-maintained cream puffs. For the former, a number of reclamation strategies were employed. Some folks, including the Schwabs, provided their own TLC in the form of new ribs, bottoms, and rigging on number 1199. Others used a group of Maritime Academy students they dubbed the “Rhodes Syndicate.”
This apprentice group was recruited by Steve Devoe, who had purchased number 1477. They had agreed to work at a discount “bulk cost” rate, and when pressures of study and other activities intruded, Steve picked up the slack by moving the “in process” works to his Jamestown, RI boat yard at his own expense. He continues as the fleet’s morale and logistical spark plug.
A key element in the building of camaraderie has been provided by Steve’s “Rhodes Warrior” awards at the fleet’s annual recognition banquet. Other fleets call them “Joke Awards” or “Every Boat Prizes,” but in every place they are used, they promote attendance and keep interest high.
Thanks to all of the aforementioned effort, and contributions in the vital Secretarial and Fiscal areas by Ellen Hermann and Ruth Campanelli, the new fleet is convinced they made the right choice and is looking forward to increased participation in local events such as the Larchmont NOOD Regatta, as well as in Rhodes 19 Class competitions. From the Rhodes 19 Class Association, “Congratulations Patti and all. Keep up the good work!”