Vineyard Race

On Watch - Lee Reichart

Lee ReichartAn accomplished offshore racer and an active member of several sailing clubs, Lee Reichart is engaged in ensuring a bright future for the sport.

© Peter Fackler 

“I grew up in Larchmont, NY, Montreal, Toronto, and back to Larchmont,” says Lee, who lives on Mason’s Island in Mystic, Connecticut. “I started sailing on my father’s best friend Palmer Langdon’s 39-foot Rhodes 27 Tiny Teal when I was really young. My first offshore experience was in 1955 when we did a cruise from Nantucket to Halifax and back. My primary job was crawling out to read the taff-rail log. Another distinct memory was on the New York Yacht Club cruise, sailing Tiny Teal’s dinghy around Commodore John Nicholas Brown’s NYYC flagship Bolero in Nantucket Harbor and being invited aboard for a tour. My father, Palmer Langdon and Ed du Moulin were all important in my development as a sailor and a person, as was a peer of mine, Steve Moore, unfortunately taken too soon.”

“My first boat was Snipe USA 16796, Skoal, that my wife Gaye and I purchased when we moved to Indianapolis after college and marriage in 1969. She was a proper yacht, albeit a small one, with beautiful mahogany decks and teak floorboards…a real delight to sail. We joined a wonderful Snipe fleet at the Indianapolis Sailing Club, where we sailed for many years as well as travelling throughout the Midwest for weekend regattas. Great memories, such as pitching our tent at a club in Jackson, Mississippi with friends from the Delta Sailing Association in Memphis and our charges at a local Girl Scout troop who also had a Snipe.”

“I started offshore racing at Larchmont Yacht Club when my family moved back to New York in 1962,” Lee recalls. “Palmer Langdon had replaced Tiny Teal with an aluminum Tripp 42-footer called Tahitian, and we competed in all of the Long Island Sound races. One of our competitors was a sistership, Scorpion, owned by sailmaker and America’s Cup veteran Jack Sutphen. I did my first Bermuda Race on Cruising Club of America Commodore Fred Adams’ Katama, followed by the Transatlantic Race from Bermuda to Copenhagen. That summer earned me a nomination to join the Storm Trysail Club. Moving to the Midwest made it difficult to do Bermuda Races regularly, but I did them on Jesse Phillips’ Charisma, Ed du Moulin and Harold Oldak’s Blaze, and Jeff Willis’ Challenge IV.”

A member of Mason’s Island Yacht Club, Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association, The Corinthians and Off Soundings Club, Lee’s a Past Commodore of the Storm Trysail Club. “The STC was founded by a group of sailing friends who had experienced a particularly rough 1936 Bermuda Race, and started getting together to drink and tell tall sailing tales,” he explains. “The club was formed in 1938, with the adoption of our familiar stylized storm trysail burgee and a mission to encourage the sport of blue water racing and cruising, and fellowship amongst participants. In order to become a member, one has to be proposed by a member, seconded and supported by three other members, and one must have sailed a minimum of 1,000 miles offshore, having experienced storm conditions under greatly reduced canvas – storm trysail weather – and be able to take command of a yacht at sea.”

The STC welcomes younger members through newly established Corinthian and Junior membership categories, and its non-profit Storm Trysail Foundation trains and encourages the next generation of blue water sailors. “Not everyone has the advantage of mentorship that I had,” Lee explains. “We believe that our Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminars and the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta have been successful in introducing young sailors to the pleasures and challenges of big boat sailing. The Club and Foundation have also taken a leadership role in training adult sailors through the annual Hands-on Safety at Sea Seminar at SUNY Maritime and the groundbreaking training videos produced by STC members Butch Ulmer, Rich du Moulin, Gary Jobson, Adam Loory, Buttons Padin and Peter Fackler.”

Storm Trysail’s signature event is Block Island Race Week. “My first was in 1971 on Palmer Langdon’s Tahiitan, and a memorable one was on Blaze in 1977 when we won the Ev Morris Trophy for Outstanding Boat of the Week,” says Lee. “Race Week has changed in that most crews no longer live onboard, although we’ve brought the Performance Cruising class back in recent years. We’re encouraging those competitors to look at Race Week as a week of cruising with five days of racing and nightly parties.”

Obligations as Regatta Chairman kept Lee from sailing his Evelyn 25 Ursa Minor at BIRW XXV in 2013, so his son Matthew and grandson William raced her in the Double Handed Division. “They found that doublehanding her was a real challenge, but an enjoyable one,” he enthuses. “Needless to say, looking on was a very proud father and grandfather.”

Looking ahead to BIRW XXVII in June, under the leadership of Regatta Chairman (and STC Vice Commodore) AJ Evans, Lee says, “AJ has brought a new vigor to the event, and from four continent-wide championships and three regional championships to expanding the Performance Cruising classes and a new Multihull division, we’re expecting a wonderful Race Week.”

With many offshore miles logged, Lee has a kitbag full of ‘What am I doing out here?’ stories. “The most recent was the 2006 Vineyard Race aboard Rich du Moulin’s Lora Ann,” he says. “We were one of just three boats to finish that race and really took a beating on the way to the Tower, but with about 99% of the crew being STC members we just had to finish!”

“I’ve sailed in four Transatlantic Races,” says Lee, pictured at the helm of Rives Potts’ McCurdy & Rhodes sloop Carina in the Transatlantic Race 2015. “They were all challenging for a variety of reasons, from too much wind aboard Katama to too little on the Clipper Stad Amsterdam, and from running out of provisions and watermaker failure on Carina to almost running out of Heineken on Stad Amsterdam…always different, always a challenge. I love going offshore to clear out the accumulated onshore cobwebs!”


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  • commented 2017-04-04 13:24:02 -0400
    Great story & fantastic experiences. Way to go Lee. Three Cheers !!!!
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