Mike Rouzee

Mike Rouzee, Captain Fleet 49–Savannah, GA
A Firm, Yare Hand at The Helm

by Fred Brehob

In establishing a sailing program for a mature, sophisticated group you pay attention to values. Mike Rouzee, founder – captain of our latest fleet, #49, at Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Georgia, is ideal for such a task. He devoted his career on Wall Street to defining and optimizing values as Partner and Managing Partner of an Investment Management and Merchant Banking business. As a plus, his sailing experience encompasses over 50 years in one designs, ocean racers and board boats.

rouzee1Small wonder then that after considering a number of other boats, he picked the Rhodes 19. The fleet is sited at The Landings, a private development community on a barrier island located on the Atlantic coastal area least likely to be hit by a tropical storm. They have seven boats that are used frequently by three person crews and they hope to send at least two to the Nationals and to eventually host the event

Mike began sailing in Lima Peru in 1946 where his dad was US Naval Attaché. When the family returned to the US in 1947, he began progressing through Blue Jays, Thistles and Lightnings. During college, Dartmouth ’62, and while subsequently serving with the Marine Corps and establishing himself in business, he reduced sailing to informal catch as catch can outings on sunfish and lasers.

During these years, his challenge and excitement quotas were filled gaining a sound education, serving the Corps at Guantanamo during the Cuban Missile Crisis and charting the intricate course patterns of financial currents.

Fortunately, he had the luck and good taste to encounter and marry in 1963 another sailor, Debbie, who grew up on Long Island in Blue Jays at Manhasset Bay Yacht Club. Sometime after establishing his career and starting a two daughter family with her, Mike reanswered the wind’s call. This second visitation was conducted in somewhat larger craft and featured a gratifying measure of success.

He achieved first in class with a second and a third in Marion-Bermuda races and a first in the 1999 Charlestown-Bermuda Race. In addition, Mike has crossed the Atlantic twice, sailed from New England to the British Virgin Islands four times and to the Bahamas twice. His northern most accomplishment is Newfoundland with Guadeloupe for the southern. He is celestially certified and while he still loves sailing, he also enjoys skiing and golf. He has served on the board of several companies and has managed finances for charities, churches and a congresswoman.

In 1998, with daughters well established, a successful, satisfying career history, grandsons and a number of time-demanding outside interests, he retired to enjoy the fruits. This decision was chronicled in the April 13 Barron’sof that year where he likened his investment state in the Market’s volatile late ‘90s to that of a bowman on a Sydney-Hobart racer in 30 knots with flare gun at the ready for an instantaneous incendiary spinnaker douse. In a real sense, his decision was sound as his company was headquartered at tower one of the World Trade Center.

The fleet is pleased with the Rhodes’ value and performance. Immediate goals are attracting more participants and locating three more boats to justify a crane installation.

Dage Legier

The Seamen’s Bethel, a New Bedford, Massachusetts chapel, was built in 1832 by a group of that town’s leading citizens, concerned about the “arduous and licentious” lifestyles of the port’s whaling seamen. Immortalized by Herman Melville in Moby-Dick, the chapel was meant to uplift and comfort mariners in need.

DaveLegierHatIt was more or less effective, but times have changed and if you want to find an institution with results that make the Bethel look like a dim oil lamp flickering in the fog, travel to New Orleans and take in the glories of Chez Legier. Granted, you won’t find any colorful whalers or Gregory Peck spewing hell’s fire and damnation from the pulpit, as he did in the movie. What you will find is much better.

There will be a pack of parched Rhodes competitors with hosts Jane and Dave dispensing massive amounts of food, drink and hospitality. The surroundings, with pool and bordering park, will sooth your soul in ways that most mariners can only imagine. The results are so beneficial that some Yankees return time after time for long stays.

This has been going on since the ’80s’ and for those poor unfortunates who haven‘t felt the joy, host Dave is Dave Legier, Captain of Fleet 7 and Gulf Coast Governor. He began sailing in 1985 or so on Rhodes 19 “SNAFU,” with his brother Bill. An overnight grounded on Cat Island South in the Gulf on a Pearson 32 and the contagious enthusiasm of Fleet Seven’s members cured a brief fling with cruising boats. He purchased SNAFU in 1989 and from there his sailing has followed a predictable learning curve.
There have been two capsizes in thunder squalls, crewing stints with other fleet seven sailors and introductions to the thrills of trailing to distant points. Dave trailed Vitesse, nee SNAFU, to Marblehead in 1996 and 2000 as well as to Hingham in 2001 where he provided post 9/11 return transportation to other New Orleans participants. He won the Don Quixote trophy in 1999 on the Lake.

Dave_and_JaneThe boat‘s name change from a WWII acronym signifying stupid chaos to the French term for quickness in order to inspire those on board is the best clue to Dave’s rounded personality. He is a man of many parts. Growing up in New Orleans he attended its Catholic school system through high school. After obtaining a BS from Southeastern Louisiana University, he worked for six months in Quality Assurance for Shell Oil before being gobbled up in the U.S. Army’s draft.

He survived his two-year obligation, one of which was an infantry assignment with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam and Cambodia. After his discharge, he returned to Shell in Texas, was moved back to New Orleans in 1973 and retired with 30 year’ service in 1998.

Dave’s post retirement years have been filled with creative professional and community service activities beyond Fleet 7. He is developing an historical and architectural tour guide for New Orleans business neighborhoods and conducts two French Quarter tours per month for The Friends of the Cabildo, volunteers for the Louisiana State Museum.

Other volunteer activities include board membership for Girls and Boys Town that maintains four group homes and two shelters for runaway – cast off kids in New Orleans. Dave also serves on the alumni board of his New Orleans high school. During our interview for this profile he was psyching himself for carnival that he celebrates each year by parading with the Krewe of Okeanos, a family oriented float organization, and with a more outrageous collection, Krewe du Vieux that marches in the original Mardis Gras style on foot.

Since 1999, David has been indulging his passion for black and white fine arts photography with classes at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. A subliminal wish to be a veterinarian got lost in Vietnam and because of the economic imperatives after it. Oh well, hosting sailors is close enough.

The goal of continuing Fleet 7’s growth in numbers with enhanced racing and camaraderie is complicated by today’s demanding commitments to work and life complexities. Finding fixer-upper boats for new recruits is a constant challenge. Dave is dedicated to strengthening the Rhodes Gulf Coast Region by enhancing ties between New Orleans and Fairhope’s Fleet 4.

David’s spare time from all of this is spent with wife Jane and their Basset Hound, Duchesse, at their Exposition Boulevard home or roughing it in their Gulf Coast cottage. David feels “truly blessed” with a wonderful, loving family and great friends. If you’re ever lucky enough to spend some time in his gourmet New Orleans kitchen, get the secrets to his Cold Water Coffee and the esoteric cult names for an array of ever hotter Tabasco sauces that grace it.

RIch Witherspoon

Rich Witherspoon, Captain Fleet 12 at Chicago’s Corinthian Yacht Club, was baptized into yachting, literally and informally via the pre-Dr. Spock, method of the early twentieth century. When he was five, his dad pitched him from a rowboat into Indiana’s Hudson Lake telling him to swim to shore. Fortunately, he made it intact and developed an intense love of things aquatic. For several summers, he and his buddies freely roamed the lake, rafting, sailing or out boarding any buoyant item they could cobble into a boat. Logs, discarded inner tubes and derelict ex-row boats, regardless of condition were fair game.

Rich is a general contractor, specializing in restoring Chicago’s older houses for up scale owners, demanding perfection. His renovation drive is a perfect fit for Fleet 12’s needs. When Rich came on the scene in 1999, a typical starting line off Montrose Harbor had three or four boats. Now, most club races have twenty or more competitors. He attributes the increase to recruiting more boat owners and encouraging them to sail with two crewmembers. The new alignment is symbiotic. Rich improves the fleet and the fleet activities give him respite from his clients’ demands.

Fleet 12 needed Rich’s talents and energy prior to 1999, but he had been busy learning, establishing himself and growing a family. In 1995 at a “tender” 47, he realized that there might be fun on that big, beautiful body of water out there. The American Youth Hostel program beckoned so he took two lessons in Rhodes 19’s.

Sailing was an instant hit and he immersed himself in grandiose plans, books and videos on cruising boat construction and ocean crossings. Family and business demands surfaced with a frequency that frustrated Rich’s sailing dreams; however, they continued sporadically. One day while totally lost in a mad hunt for a client, he turned around in a Palatine, Illinois driveway where he finally found peace and Harmony. There she was, an abandoned R19, sitting with her bow pointing skyward with hundreds of pounds of water and ice in her stern, a perfect candidate for restoration.

Two weeks passed before he found the courage to inform his wife Cynthia, a Bedford, Massachusetts native, who is seasick prone, of their new child. Harmony’s restoration went well. Soon, day sailing along the Chicago shore became old. Rich still dreamed of long distance treks such as crossing Lake Michigan in Harmony, but settled for the mysteries of one design racing with the then struggling Fleet 12.

Bow Lingle, Fleet Captain, immediately recognized and tapped the creative talent that had crossed his bow. He enlisted Rich to help grow the fleet. They combed boat ads, drummed up potential owner interest and offered rigging and racing assistance. Rich travels to Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana to locate and trail boats back to Montrose.

Their efforts have paid off. A critical mass has been reached. Inquiries about their program from other Chicago harbors and other one design fleets are on the increase. Rich has recruited other Montrose fleets, Lightnings, Vanguard-15’s, Lasers, Thistles and 110’s to aid in promoting the club and to fend off the potentially disastrous effect of a for profit raptor, Westrec. This company holds a contract to run Chicago’s harbors and they covet CCYC’s dry sailing compound.

Rich has three children and one grandchild. He finds racing challenging, but fun. He attended the 1999 Nationals where, in addition to sailing experience and enjoyment; he gained a new boat name. He never liked “Harmony,” but was too busy to concoct another. As he completed a crash tack in one race’s hairy conditions, he heard an outraged bayou wail, “Hahmony youhre too close.” As part of this winter’s total refit for the 2003 Nationals in Marblehead, the boat’s transom will be adorned with the new name, Hominy. We aren’t certain that the new moniker is an improvement, but we are sure that Rich can be counted on for the grit(s).

Mike Hebert

Mike Hebert, Captain, Fleet 46 in Hingham, discovered our sport somewhat later in life. He had sailed casually, mostly on Sunfish, fewer than six times, before he joined the crew of an Express 37 in 1993 to compete on Puget Sound. He was serving his “Desert Shield” army reserve officer’s stint after graduating in accounting from Bryant College.

mike_hebert_daughterIn spite of several negatives, including the rainy October-April sailing season, the boat’s distressing inability to sail to its rating and a screaming skipper who distinguished himself by falling overboard, Mike found himself drawn to sailing, “like a moth to a light.” Maybe it was the freedom from army discipline, or perhaps the competitive spirit of the small crew that attracted him. But for whatever reason, the Class should be glad it happened, as he was there to succeed Ken & Barbara Wilson at Hingham’s helm this year.

During the intervening nine years from Puget Sound to Hingham, Mike spent a lot of time on the water. He had extended his Army active service to five years, and after its completion, moved back to Massachusetts where he finished his education with a Master’s in finance at Bentley, and married his wife Maureen. Their family sailing began when they crewed for Hingham’s Dick Callahan on his J105, Footloose. The highlight of this experience was taking two firsts out of six races at the 1997 PHRF Championship in Marblehead.

It was here that fleet 46 took root. Dick noticed Norm Cressy’s Fat Lady in the EYC parking lot and was so impressed that he decided to sell the J105 and start a Hingham Bay fleet. After doing so well on the J, Mike and Maureen were more than a little distressed at being unhorsed by the shifting paradigm. They were saving for a new house and had no intention of investing in a boat, but Mike’s brother-in-law had a serendipitous experience with aging Rhodes #1553 that was for sale in Padanarum.

Mike and Maureen couldn’t say no to his offer to share the cost with them, so Lemon Zinger was acquired. Within two weeks, it was in the water, rusty fittings, hasty rigging and all. Their first scheduled race was canceled due to recorded gusts of 33 knots, but the boat held together confirming the wisdom of their choice.

Since then, their lives have been busy. They served two years as social chairmen for the new fleet, assisted the Wilsons in fleet administration for two years, made a big contribution to the success of the 2001 Nationals as co-chairs, and competed in the most recent four East Coast Championships. They have found cruising time with Maureen’s parents on their Newport based O’Day 32 as well as some PHRF racing time.

To cap off this dizzying activity, they became parents of Gabrielle last spring and bought a Stuart, #3101, for reduced on water maintenance. Gabby attends most of the Fleet social events and they definitely plan to introduce her to sailing earlier on than her dad was.

Their future plans for the fleet center around maintaining its size by closing the performance gaps between the group’s top sailors and those newer to the sport. They share information on boat rigs and speed, emphasize social events and keep everyone’s hopes alive through a handicap scoring system that rewards improved performance. Mike is planning to sail in New Orleans at the October Nationals.d on for the grit(s).

Patti Schwab

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!”

Randy Fitzpatrick

She’s here at long last, a real, honest to goodness 3rd generation Rhodes 19 family sailor and she’s brought Fairhope’s Fleet Four with her. Anne “Randy” Fitzpatrick began sailing with her grandfather, Ed Marty, on #688 at the age of five. Virtually her entire life has been spent in Alabama enjoying the delights of Rhodes 19 sailing on Mobile Bay and the experience of growing up in Fairhope’s charming, idyllic environment.

Early on, she did no racing, but enjoyed the thrilling experience of rail-down upwind thrashes in an essentially safe boat on a protected body of water, and watching her grandfather’s racing through a telescope from the bayside family home. As she grew, she was gently nudged into a more active role. Her enhanced experiences included string pulling and helming as well as elementary keel maintenance. She is, as she modestly relates, “hell on wheels with a grinder.” (Greg and Joe be warned!)

As Ed Marty aged, his first pupil, daughter Nancy, Randy’s mom, took over the boat and dutiful Randy continued as crew. Eventually though, as in every family, human and animal, nest-leaving time came. Anne accepted the truth that she would always be the child on that particular Rhodes.

When the right time came, she jumped ship to David McFarland’s more successful program on #1693. The new association has benefited both parties. Dave has a dedicated crew who helped him win a number of local events and finish fourth in the 2001 Gulf Coast Regional Championships. Randy gained racing experience and has enjoyed Dave’s encouragement in broadening her sailing horizons.

After serving Fleet 4 as Secretary for two years, Randy took over as Fleet Captain. In the latter role, she has proven grandfather Ed’s premise that nautical expertise is fostered by a light touch, and that women are the best at applying it. The results, a more active membership, a super fleet report and a well-attended, reinvigorated Gulf Coast Championship, speak for themselves.

Captain Randy comments that the Fairhope fleet never thought of itself as inactive, just unexcited, nationally. With the 2002 Nationals slated for nearby New Orleans, she says, “We’re back. We’re bad. We’re ready!”

Jeremy Bloxham

Jeremy Bloxham, Fleet 5 President for the past year, has experience, training and education that are an outstanding fit for this challenging office. Fleet 5 is a huge, competitive, diverse, and feisty assortment of characters that requires a firm, discerning hand at its helm.

His sailing credentials are the best. He began messing around in a nondescript small boat at the age of nine in 1969 at the Norfolk Broads, a series of lagoons formed by flooding of medieval peat diggings near the East Coast of England. From there, he proceeded to crewing for an older brother on an eleven-foot Mirror Class dinghy at the English Channel port of Chichester. This yachting hotbed, with its fifteen clubs, provided a high level of competition and motivation. Jeremy’s club, the Hayling Island Sailing Club, boasts six Olympic medalists from Sydney 2000.

Jeremy_and_Katie
Jeremy and Katie Bloxham and Kathy Wright,
2000 National Champions

Soon, Jeremy was skippering his own Mirror. From there, he advanced to the sixteen foot trapeezed Fireball. He was in constant demand as crew for a variety of boats. He also competed in Lasers and Windsurfers. His personal highlight of this early career was helming a quarter-tonner as it rolled over a similar one sailed by Paul Elvstrom in twenty-five knots of wind.

More laid back experience was provided by cruising at various times in Europe, Australia, the Caribbean and the United States. One interesting passage from the Indian Ocean’s Seychelles to South Africa was done with his mother-in-law. Upon meeting her daughter, Katie, an accomplished sailor, Jeremy knew he had found a keeper and signed her up as Contributing First Mate.

He came to this country in 1985 and continued sailing on a S2, 9.1, a J/35 and most recently the Rhodes 19. His titles over the past decade include three New England PHRF Championships, Marblehead PHRF Boat of the Year, the Rhodes 19 National Championship and the Rhodes 19 East Coast Championship. He was elected Rhodes 19 Association Secretary at Hingham.

Jeremy_night_swimmingJeremy holds BA and Masters Degrees in Mathematics, and a PhD in Geophysics from Cambridge University. He currently chairs Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and teaches Geophysics. His goals for the fleet are to increase its membership strengths in numbers and sailing talent. Geophysics, his discipline, among other things, concerns itself with the source, configuration and variations of the earth’s geomagnetic field. It is easy to see why Jeremy knows where he’s at and how he got there.

A dripping Jeremy (2nd from left) and his dry and warm entourage, returning from Jeremy’s involuntary night swimming episode after winning the 2000 Nationals!