This year marked the 14th running of the Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta, hosted jointly by Larchmont and American Yacht Clubs. This year’s Robie was at Larchmont starting on Thursday, June 1 with the Robie Women’s Invitational (the world’s only all-women’s adaptive regatta) followed by the Robie One-Design Friday, June 2 to Sunday, June 4. This was the year that everyone showed up except the wind!
Despite the best intentions of the Event and Race Committee, the six women’s boats set to race Thursday never got off the docks. When it was clear that no wind would materialize, an alternative plan was developed to award the prizes: each boat of three sailors would have one compete in a bocce tournament, another play cornhole (yes, blind sailors playing cornhole against each other), and the third would kibitz. Huge laughs were shared by all as Christina Diaz and Katherine Kern from Boston Blind Sailing took top honors with their able-bodied crewmate Caroline Romans.
The no-wind conditions would last through Friday afternoon, canceling the first day of the One-Design. Then, Saturday the reverse happened, winds puffing into the mid-20s precluding racing again. It wasn’t until Sunday that Principal Race Officer Cynthia Parthemos was able to run two races before the wind strength again exceeded sailing limits.
The team of Korey Breitel (Rye, NY), Julian Klus (New York, NY) and AB Adam Loory (Mamaroneck, NY) took home top honors with a 3-1 scoreline. In second was the Essex, CT crew of Geff Matesky, Lin Wei-Lee (Mt. Vernon, NY) and Carter Growrie (AB) taking second for the second consecutive year having won two years earlier. Also on the podium in third were Jim Hahn (Norwalk, CT), Colin Smith (Middlebury, VT), and Will Florio (AB – Rye, NY).
During this truncated weekend, the 40+ sailors kept busy catching up with each other. LYC co-chair Buttons Padin noted, “At least the weekend party wasn’t inconvenienced by having to go racing. Yes, it would have been better to have been on the water, but there were no complaints in the end. All the volunteers from Larchmont and American plus the LYC staff put on a world-class event for these sailors and their families.” AYC co-chair Siobhan Reilly added, “One of the weekend highlights was when a competitor, Christine Diaz, gave a stirring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner to begin the day. She received a great round of applause and cheering from the group that emphasized the special community of the Robie.”
The final surprise was during Saturday’s dinner when longtime Robie supporter, Betsy Alison, had an unannounced Zoom call with all the Robie competitors, which was set up by AYC co-chair Bill Sandberg. Well wishes were offered all around and plans were begun for next year’s 15th Robie Pierce to be held at American Yacht Club.
Perhaps the most touching moment of the entire event happened at Saturday night’s dinner when LYC Past Commodore Carl Olsson spoke with Robbie Pierce, Jr. (yes, he uses both b’s). Carl, who helped start the Robie, and Robie Pierce, Sr. were fierce sailing competitors in the early days of adaptive sailing. Carl won the first US Sailing Disabled Sailing Championship in 1990 and then in 1992, beating Robie both times. Robie, on the other hand, won the USDSC in 1991, ‘93 and ‘95. Bystanders were struck by the warmth between Carl and the son of his longtime friend as they shared stories of the elder Pierce. Perhaps that’s why everyone calls this the “Robie Family.”
To learn more about this amazing event, visit robiepierceonedesignregatta.com. ■