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The Winter Mainsheet is now available; Click here.
Hello Fleet Captains and Officers,
We are planning now for our 2nd quarter Mainsheet, so please submit your articles and material. Please forward material to me and Meredith (me so I know what’s coming). Meredith is : email@example.com We would like to have your input by May 24th.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
A troika can give a group dynamic, productive leadership. One did that for the Class and San Francisco’s Fleet 17 in the ’70’s with Kirk Smith, Jim McCray and Joe Madrigali supplying elbow grease. Now, the other coast has a similar triumvirate at Fleet 35 on Narragansett Bay. Bob Taber is the official lifetime Fleet Captain, and at 83, he delegates a portion of the heavy administrative process and propaganda to Fred Bieberbach and Paul Bestoso so that he can concentrate on what he has done so well for the past 25 years, creating an environment where everyone, young, old, competitive and laid back can meet on an equal, low cost basis to enjoy the water.
As Chairman of his Narragansett Terrace Yacht Club’s junior sailing program, which he helped organize and fund, he has introduced as many as 35 youngsters a year into a lifetime sport. He served as prime mover and builder for the club’s White Horse Dinghy frostbite fleet. The White Horse, designed by another club regular, Justin Wood, sails every winter Sunday with all ages, including Bob who can still jump in and out of the eight footer. He was instrumental in establishing several special cruising, fun type races to a number of Narragansett Bay locations, at two of which, Comminute Lighthouse and Prudence Island, his club maintains moorings.
Bob enjoys a constant hunt for ‘fixer-upper’ Rhodes to add to the fleet. One of the prime conditions for introduction to his finds is that the potential owner agrees to race.
Bob’s creed that sailing should occupy every spare moment of one’s idle time was acquired over three quarters of a century on or near the water. With the exception of a WWII hitch in the Navy, keeping B-24s flying in the Pacific, the lifetime has been spent on the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay. At eight, off Pomham Light, in a wooden skiff with a blanket for a sail, he taught himself how to use wind and current to move a boat. Another introduction of this era was the Thompson sub-machine gun, seen by moonlight in the hands of local law men as they supervised the off loading of the region’s prohibition era products. Fortunately for future generations of sailors, no one spotted the awed eight year old as he peered through bushes.
Over the ensuing years, he helmed a gamut of craft ranging from RI Governor William H. Vanderbilt’s 72-foot motor yacht through large cruising schooners; various small one designs such as the Rhodes and Newport 24s; hot boats such as trimirans and wind surfers; DN Ice Boats and, finally, the White Horse. He gained the knowledge and elusive touch that have enabled him to maintain a distinctive competitive sailing edge well into his eighties.
Competition is just one contribution he makes to sailing. For years, he has acted as a sentinel from his home on a spot looking out on Bullock Cove and upper Narragansett Bay. When spying a boater in trouble, he scrambles into his skiff to lend a hand. His caring concern for others is operable on land as well. A gauge of a man’s esteem is the number and quality of personal anecdotes that his peers circulate about him. The following will give one an accurate reading.
Back when the Class ok’d racing without jumpers, Bob was noticed sailing Butterfly with empty upper sockets. Someone asked if he did it to save weight or to cut windage, and he replied, “The damn overhead door caught em and knocked em off.” Recently, his pals’ curiosity was fired by a newly acquired Mazda RX7 of dubious vintage. When asked if he was going cruising for chicks, he replied, “Heck no, I’m going to use its Wankel Engine to power the seaplane I’m building.”
Such a treasured Swamp Yankee cannot be evolved by the simple interaction of peers, the service and the sea. A catalyst to forge these into a finished being is needed. In Bob’s case, she was Alicia, his wife of 51 years, whose loss during a Thursday evening race was chronicled in the Providence Journal. A reprint can be found in the Spring 2001 Mainsheet. The first woman commodore in Rhode Island, she enjoyed sailing as much as Bob. He feels her absence deeply , but continues the sport they enjoyed together. To abandon it would be disrespectful.
Believe it or not, Fleet 45’s soft spoken captain, John Economides, has a few traits in common with California’s new, flamboyant governor. They both serve as the CEO of a diverse, atypical organization, they appreciate the guitar and both owe much to their wives. Blessedly, this is where their similarities end.
John actually played the guitar, he doesn’t bulge from years of enhanced body building and he hasn’t terminated anyone, yet. Most importantly, his wife stands with him rather than behind him and in fact, he insisted on a guarantee of “equal billing” for Denise as a precondition for this profile.
Children of the sixties, she from Winthrop, he from East Boston, they met at a Winthrop party where John was playing a rock and roll guitar gig in 1969. They realized that they shared interests in the life sciences and the belief in education as the path to personal growth and married in 1973. At that time, John had completed a BA in Biology at UMass Boston by way of Boston Latin secondary school. Denise had completed her primary and secondary education in the Winthrop Public Schools. Post marriage, the pace picked up. They soon had two children and they continued their formal educations.
Denise pursued and gained a BS in Health Science from Northeastern University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with membership in Northeastern’s Sigma Epsilon Rho honor society while working part time and providing primary care for their son and daughter. She also gained an Early Childhood Education Certificate from Salem State in her spare time. She is putting this training to use as a Senior Medical Technologist at Lahey Clinic’s Burlington facility.
Not to be outdone, John attained a MBA in Finance and a Masters in Computer Science from Boston University. He works as Principal Financial Systems Analyst for MFS Investment Management in Boston.
In 1993, after 20 years together, they found time for basic keelboat lessons in Solings and Sonars at the Boston Sailing Center. With a residence in Winthrop, they gravitated to the Cottage Park Yacht Club which they joined in 1998. Mike Gahan, a Fleet 45 founder, helped them pick the Rhodes 19 as an affordable racer/cruiser. The boat met Mike’s advanced publicity and as a plus, they have been pleased by the friendship of their fellow Rhodes 19 sailors.
They began racing and actively supporting the fleet soon after they acquired Ghost Dog, number 1118. They participated in the 2001 Nationals and John was elected East Coast Vice President at the Annual Class Meeting on the fateful day, 9/11/01. The following year, they convoyed to New Orleans with Trees-MacAdoo and were awarded their club’s Tranfaglia award for promoting CPYC sailing by sporting the club burgee during their 70 hours on the road.
Again, they were besieged by larger events as they transited the D.C. environs during the height of the sniper attacks. Frequent gas stops with the great white shape in tow provoked a certain measure of anxiety.
They attended the 2003 Nationals in Marblehead and continue their drive to spur Fleet 45’s participation. In this effort, they have been aided by Cottage Park pros Costa and Zambella who selected the Rhodes 19 for a new club adult sailing program. This past summer, they gained three new members plus their daughter who is a frequent crew for MacAdoo-Trees in three person events.
In bringing the Economides style of togetherness to the Class on the water and in the shore side administration activities, they have given the boat’s family tradition a big boost. We can only hope that other families of all ages observe and follow their excellent example.
Steve Uhl of Fleet 5
By Fred Brehob
So you’re wondering how that mild mannered guy with the winning smile plopped down in our midst and immediately began jumping over the competitive buildings with a single bound. Well friends, Fleet Five members and others, your days of wondering are over. Now it can be told. Fleet Five Captain Steve Uhl has an immense sailing pedigree.
His dad, Bill Uhl, with Steve’s mom as crew, cut a swath in the Lightning Class during the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. The highlight of their competitions was a second place at the International Lightning Class Worlds in 1958. Steve was born in 1962 when they were still tearing up the waters of Great Peconic Bay, so there is little doubt that his introduction to the sport was in utero. This is certainly a more comfortable and safe platform than an Opti.
We don’t want to trigger an investigation, but the word is that after Steve’s 1962 launching, mom and dad would solve the late or missing third crew problem by strapping in their prize forward of the centerboard trunk where he got his introduction to sail trim, and weaned himself on belaying pins used to secure the Lightning’s halyards. Steve’s earliest memories are of trailing the boat to various regattas around the country to places like Milwaukee, Schenectady, Red Bank, Quantico, Buffalo, etc. from their Port Washington, New York home.
Upon reaching the ripe old age of nine, he found himself in a more formal setting, the junior sailing program at the Cold Springs Harbor Beach Club on Long Island. There, he began his formal training in Blue Jays. At eleven, he won the last Long Island Sound Novice Open Championship in this boat. Subsequently, he moved up to Lasers. If all of the preceding weren’t enough, his sailing touch was further polished when he began flying lessons in 1980. This second hobby continues to the present out of Beverly Airport.
At college decision time, there was only one choice, MIT. The academics in Aeronautics and Astronautics were his prime interest, but the real clincher was the sailing program under the inspirational leadership of Hatch Brown. It was great fun to finish classes each weekday at four and then beat it down to the Institute’s Charles River boathouse for two and a half hours of intense sailing competition.
Steve’s parents moved to New Hampshire. There, he spent a summer as a sailing coach at Sunapee Yacht Club. After graduating from MIT, he accepted a position with Pratt and Whitney at Hartford, Connecticut where he enjoyed frostbiting in Lasers and a brief stint distance racing. In 1987, he enrolled at Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck business school and after graduating, moved to San Francisco. While establishing himself in consulting work, he let sailing slide.
A 1992 opportunity to move back east with his company was a godsend with Marblehead as a magnet. There he met wife Jennifer, a non-sailing college dance professor. Their romance survived a January Interclub Dinghy dunking at Essex, Connecticut and they became parents to two delightful sons,Thornton and Clark who at 7 and 6 are continuing the Uhl sailing tradition by crewing.
Steve’s interest in the Rhodes 19 as an affordable, more forgiving, family friendly Marblehead class with an active racing fleet blossomed in 1999. And thanks to Bill and Kera Dalton and Kim Pandapas he found the good ship Woodstock. In addition to his challenging Fleet 5 Captain’s duties of finding and welcoming new members, he is chairing the 2003 National Regatta Committee.
For those keeping score, he has endured a 29 year regatta championship drought. So look out for him in August if the rest of the committee can shoulder enough of the Regatta planning load to allow him to think a little about the actual competition.
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.
Small 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.
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.
It 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.
The 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, 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, 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.
In 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).