Bob Bernstein

Bob Bernstein – Rhodes 19 Treasure

I was recently doing some class history work—looking at past nationals results to get them updated for the website. In looking back through early years’ results, the earliest name I recognized was Bob Bernstein’s, whom I know from racing more recently in last year’s nationals. From 1973 to 2015 is quite a span of participation in the Rhodes class, and I figured there was a good story there—and I sure was right. With the very significant help of Bob’s wife, Joanne, and Bob’s friends, I put together a short sketch of Bob’s adventures over the years. Bob is a class act and one of the Rhodes 19’s class treasures.

Bob started sailing back when he was one year old. His family had an old wooden boat named Flight— well, certainly it is very old now, but it is still on the same mooring in Montrose Harbor in Chicago. Bob learned about sailing and racing on that boat. He and his dad won boat of the year at least once, and the boat was sailed in the Mac when Bob was away at summer camp.

In about 1973, that boat was sold and Bob bought his first Rhodes, #2000. Bob’s first nationals was in 1973 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. One of his first crew was Scott Graham, who later became a notable naval architect with Eric Schlageter in the firm G&S. During those years, Bob won the Chicago fleet championship several times and competed in several nationals, always placing well. Bob’s friend and competitor Elliott Lyon, who sailed both against and with Bob in the ’70s and ’80s, says Bob was “the smartest guy on the water I could possibly imagine.” Bob would often crew on other boats as well—with a big positive impact on their performance. In Elliott’s last race, with Bob as crew, they clawed their way back from sixth to first in one of those Zenlike moments.

Bob’s seamanship is impressive as well; during the 1979 nationals in San Francisco, the hellacious winds and conditions capsized six boats in a single race. Meanwhile, Bob, his rudder having broken off, was able to steer his boat to safety using sails and weight alone.

bernsteinphoto1Bob sold his boat in the ’80s and for some years pursued other yachting adventures. In the mid-to-late ’80s, Bob crewed on a friend’s boat out of Jackson Harbor on Chicago’s South Side. One summer the friend was on holiday for a month, so Bob, looking for another boat to sail on, answered an ad from Dorsey Ruley, who had an about-forty-foot racing boat and was looking for a helmsman and tactician. Needless to say, Bob was very curious as to why an owner wanted someone else to sail his boat. Dorsey couldn’t sail the boat himself because he is a quadriplegic. Being out on a sailboat, strapped into a special seat at the back of the boat, is when he really enjoys himself. While in Australia with his wife in 2000, Bob checked out a boat in Sydney for Dorsey, which Dorsey then bought. Bob drove them to first place in the 2002 Mac race and has won boat of the year numerous times. Bob has been sailing with Dorsey for about twenty years now.

Meanwhile, Bob really missed small-boat sailing, so Joanne kept encouraging him to buy one again. He said he would do so only if he could find one that was in great shape and competitive. After a year or two, he found his boat; Chris Small in Marblehead had just beautifully refinished it. Bob flew out to see it six or so years ago in about March, and then in late April or early May, Joanne and Bob drove from Chicago to Marblehead to trailer it back.

When he was looking to buy a boat, Bob often said that Rhubarb, Bob Jensen’s boat, was the boat to try to beat. Bob Jensen was Bob Bernstein’s legendary competition, and he was an inspiration! Bob was saddened when Bob Jensen retired. When I asked Bob Jensen about Bob, he said he was a worthy competitor and one with a remarkable ability for analyzing and anticipating weather patterns. Bob Jensen always had his eye on Bob’s whereabouts on the racecourse.

Upon returning to Fleet 12, he has become one of its most helpful and instructive members. He has run seminars and on-water clinics to upgrade the Chicago fleet’s performance, and he took on chairing the 2016 nationals. Chicago wouldn’t be hosting them if it weren’t for Bob. Also, once or twice a season, usually in the spring, he helps other Rhodes sailors who request his help on a practice day. On those days, he’ll jump from boat to boat and work with three or so boats each day.

Professionally, Bob had a seat on the CBOE (Chicago Board of Options Exchange) for about sixteen years. After he left the floor of the exchange, he continued to do some trading from his computer, but he never passes up a doubles tennis game, something he does with about the same intensity as he sails. He plays three to six times a week, less often during sailing season than in the winter. Bob also works part time as a financial adviser. He works independently and likes to look at the whole financial picture of his clients so he can help them holistically.

In any event, I’m told that Bob has been a Chicago Corinthian YC member for seventy years. How lucky for the club.

By Steve Uhl

Wanted: Nationals Results

Looking for help locating FULL results from Nationals for the following years.  Maybe you have an old mainsheet or other doc that might have this?  Contact Steve Uhl if you can help.  1963,1964,1965,1966 ,1989,1994,2001,2002,2004

2016 East Coast Championship Results

Ben Richardson, Megan Watson and Chris Hufstader put on a dominating performance over 2 1/2 days of racing in beautiful weather at Rockport, MA  June 17-19, 2016.  Second was Tomas Hornos with his crew Kate Wysocki and Beanie Eisner.  Third was Jim Raisides, Charlie Pendleton and Elise Mazareas.  Congratulations to all and full results at the link below.

Also congratulations to the winning junior team of Hunter Zonnenberg, Jasper Westhoven, and Will Bedford.

Thanks to Rob Paterson and the whole team at Sandy Bay for a great regatta.

Full Regatta Results

Boyd Building Viking Ship

Class member Stuart Boyd has a fascinating project, building a viking ship.  The full story is here but you can read about it below as well!


Imagine A Viking Ship Off Crane Beach? This Guy Will Make It Happen

Imagine A Viking Ship Off Crane Beach. This Guy Will Make It Happen

Entrepreneur Stuart Boyd with images of his Viking ship
Entrepreneur Stuart Boyd with images of his Viking ship

Stuart Boyd can imagine what a sight a Viking boat would be from Crane Beach or sailing up the Essex River.

The Hamilton resident can picture it because he’s having one built.

“I can just imagine it at Crane Beach, the stares and the awe,” he said.

The boat, which will be 38 feet long, will then become the centerpiece for his new business, Norsvald, which was borne of a “flippant comment” he made while striving to solve a problem in the tech world.

Originally from Bangor, Co. Down, itself a sailing town in Northern Ireland, Boyd explained over coffee in Zumi’s how he went from working in consumer electronics to self-employment on a Viking boat.

“I’ve always been on the water,” he said. An experienced sailor and licensed captain, Boyd said he wouldn’t consider himself an expert on wooden boats.

Meanwhile, in his professional life, Boyd found himself working in tech companies and learning a lot about teams and putting together high-performing groups.

Casting his eye to the world of startup businesses — and it’s sky-high failure rate — Boyd wondered if he could build teams across the fledgling businesses to help them improve their odds.

While in Denmark “scouting around the tech scene there,” Boyd popped into a Viking museum to look around.

Looking at the old ships, including one that had been built in 1040 in the Viking settlement of Dublin, Boyd was struck by how the Vikings worked together on the sea in open boats to travel great distances.

Boat builder Jay Smith
Boat builder Jay Smith (Norsvald Instagram photo)

“I’d rather see a Viking ship sail up the back of Crane Beach and take small groups on that,” he said in the museum.

The Norvalds seed had been planted.

“The technology is so old, yet it’s relevant today,” he said.

All it needed now was an authentic Viking ship. Built from scratch. On the North Shore — that the U.S. Coast Guard would approve for commercial use.

Through his research, Boyd found Jay Smith, owner of Aspoya Boatyards in Anacortes, Wash.

A Midwesterner, Smith went to Norway as a young man and studied boat building in the Nordic tradition there. He has been in the business for 30 years now.

However, the vessel being built isn’t for a private owner. It will take 12 paying customers and two crew on team-building exercises. That requires permits and safety checks.

Boyd is liaising with the Coast Guard to ensure that happens.

He is working with Jim Taylor, who has his own yacht design company in Marblehead, to ensure the Coast Guard recognizes and approves the boat as seaworthy.

But Viking building techniques and materials are also being included, Boyd said. Over 1,000 hand-made rivets are being used, for example.

Made from old logging chains, the rivets had to be chemically analyzed and tested for strength in a lab to be approved as building materials.

But details like that will be important for people to experience living history while on the team-building exercises, Boyd thinks.

Finish work in Essex

Jay Smith (right) examines the keel (Susan Wood via Instagram)
Jay Smith (right) examines the keel (Susan Wood via Instagram)

The hull, built from oak carefully selected from forests of the Pacific Northwest, is almost half built, Boyd reported.

With the help of an arborist, trees were chosen where their natural crooks formed the boat’s shape.

Four “strakes” are already in place, and three more need to be added, Boyd said.

The Washington work should wind up later this year. The hull will then be loaded on a truck and driven across the country.

It’s an easy enough ride, Boyd laughed. “It’s literally one left turn” off Route 5 in Washington, then it’s I-90 all the way east.

The vessel will then be completed — and launched from — the Burnham Boatyard in Essex.

That business, itself, is famous because Harold Burnham is an 11th-generation boatbuilder. Boyd is not worried the bi-coastal experts will clash. “Boat builders warm to each other,” he said.

When complete, the craft will be around 10 feet tall from top to bottom. Viking ships had very shallow drafts, and just under two feet will be under water.


Ship taking shape (Stuart Boyd photo)
Ship taking shape (Stuart Boyd photo)

Referring to the experiential and outdoor-education business, Boyd describes Norsvald as “Outward Bound for busy people.” Right now, his intention is to sail from Gloucester, and groups will sail for a day or half-day, he said.

Another element will deal with education, where technical, mathematical, or scientific concepts are shown in practice. “We’re taking the concepts taught in school and applying them in a non-classroom environment,” Boyd said.

Four people are working on the project, including Boyd, who is full-time on it.

Asked how much all of this was costing, he declined to disclose the number. Smiling, he replied, “It’s a scary enough project.”

But his goal is to build a business, educate people and form teams. “I want the folks in Denmark to be proud of this,” he said.

Outboard Advice Wanted

New member with a CB Stuart – looking for advice on adding an outboard.  Type: Gas, propane, or electric?  Power and size needed? Which brands are most reliable?  Bracket types that would be most suitable, and not an eyesore?  Are there removable brackets?  Suggested locations for mounting bracket?  Any and all outboard advice is appreciated.  Mark Rager