A resident of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Robyn Earley is a former pro sailor, an enthusiastic racer, and Commodore of The Twenty Hundred Club.

“I was born in Boston, but moved to Sarasota, Florida when I was six.” says Robyn, “I lived in Florida until I left for graduate school in San Diego. We had a Bristol 29, Irish Mist, and according to my parents I was sailing before I could walk! My Dad, Robert Earley, also raced iceboats, and rumor has it Mom was also a fast racer! We sailed Irish Mist to Maine and even Nova Scotia, and I remember thinking that being on the water with family was magical.”

Dad raced at Boston University, and ran Community Boating on the Charles River. He was a three-time Mercury National Champion, and he even met my Mom sailing! I loved doing everything Dad did, particularly going out on the boat. When I was racing in Boston as an adult, I called him every Wednesday night to share how the race went.”

“I’ve been fortunate to meet and sail with some fantastic sailors, and other outstanding mentors include Tom Zauli, EC Helme, and Karl Joyner. The things they all have in common are extensive sailing knowledge, fostering a learning environment with teams, and being really good people.”

“After working for over twenty years as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Healthcare Administrator, I decided to take some time off. I’d raced a couple times on the 12 Metre Columbia, and was offered an opportunity as crew for the summer. I learned a lot, and sailed almost every day from May until October. I had planned to get back into my healthcare career, but received an offer to do some offshore deliveries south and I jumped at the chance.”

“I was hired as first mate on a catamaran for a rally from Newport to Bermuda and then on to St. Martin. It was a good opportunity to be part of the pre-race strategy, weather analysis, and route planning. My two favorite deliveries were on the 43-metre Schooner Columbia. After a race in Connecticut, we delivered her from New London to Panama City, Florida. I’ll never forget being on watch just before dawn and hearing splashing all around the boat. As the sun came up, we realized we were surrounded by a giant pod of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. It was incredible.”

“The last delivery that year, we took a 76-foot Spirit of Tradition boat from Newport to Antigua. There was no autopilot, so it was great experience being at the helm for much of the delivery. I lived on her in Antigua for about a month, then delivered her to St. Barth’s. There’s something special about sailing all night, with no lights to be seen. You feel transported to a truly special place. Just before going back to work in healthcare, I did the 2018 Newport Bermuda Race, and was at the helm for a good part of it. Although I’d done many deliveries, that was a whole different experience.”

In 2021, Robyn volunteered at the J/Fest Regatta in Newport. “I’ve always been someone who volunteers. A couple sailing friends asked if I wanted to be involved, and it was a great way to meet more sailors in my new hometown of Newport. I did all of our community outreach and publicity. It was great meeting the team at Sail Newport and local media, and I made friends that I’m still close with today.”

“I joined The Twenty Hundred Club (20HC) board in 2019 as Rear Commodore. I then became Vice Commodore and in 2023, Commodore. As Commodore I’m the executive head of the club, responsible for leading the board in all of our activities. We run seven races annually, and we have an annual meeting in December and a spring awards party.”

“The 20HC has been around since 1946, and holds a unique position in the Rhode Island sailing community. Our races are point-to-point races with interesting formats that challenge sailors in a different way. While we encourage buoy racers to get out of their comfort zone, we’re committed to getting more sailors on the water. We offer Spinnaker and Cruising classes and recently added a Multihull class. We keep the cost of races to a minimum, offer pre-race briefings to share strategy, and we’ve structured our race documents for use by both novice and experienced racers. Our Youth Series Championship encourages skippers to have an all-youth crew for any of our races, to give more young sailors an opportunity to race big boats. Last year, we added an Associate Membership to support our commitment to growing the sport.”

“20HC has several more races this season. Our first of two destination races, the race to Cuttyhunk, is July 13. Our race weekend out to Block Island starts August 3 with a race back on August 5. Our navigation race, the Prince Henry, is August 24, and our Fall Race Around Prudence is September 21. Our Around Aquidneck Challenge is a self-timed, 32-nautical mile race that can be completed anytime between March 1 and December 31. I did it on the Farr 30 Bully Circus last October and it was awesome!”

“I married Troy Rittenhouse in 2020. He likes to tell people that he started racing so he could see me over the summer. We race out of Jamestown Yacht Club Tuesday nights on Bully Circus and the J/92 Spirit and Wednesdays with the Spar Island Racing Association on the Graves Constellation Andromeda, and we spend most summer weekends racing.”

“I’ve met some incredible people sailing, and I love that more women are racing. I think that men and women often approach racing in different and complementary ways that adds a strategic advantage to the group…and certainly makes it more fun!” ■