By Buttons Padin
Adapted from the Larchmont Yacht Club Mainsheet
Rich du Moulin is not only renowned for his competitive sailing accomplishments but also his many contributions to the sport of sailing and the maritime shipping industry.
Rich grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s sailing at Knickerbocker Yacht Club in Manhasset, NY. The son of Eleanor and Edward du Moulin, he quickly picked up his father’s passion for sailing. Ed raced his series of boats named Lady Del and Blaze all over the Northeast as well as to Bermuda. Along with his son, the crew also comprised many of Manhasset Bay’s finest young sailors, many of whom are still sailing with Rich. As a member of New York Yacht Club, Ed became involved with defending the America’s Cup, earning himself a place in the America’s Cup Hall of Fame having managed four Cup syndicates: three for Dennis Conner including bringing the Cup home from Australia in 1987. Rich sailed in campaigns aboard Intrepid/Constellation, Mariner, and Enterprise. With Freedom and Liberty, he was a part-time tactician/navigator.
As a young sailor, Rich sailed Blue Jays and Lightnings and earned Honorable Mention All-American honors as a senior on the Dartmouth Sailing Team. Upon graduation, it was into the Navy as a junior officer. After a sea tour, he was stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy as an ocean racing coach where he and his fellow coaches took USNA teams to Bermuda and the SORC (Southern Ocean Racing Conference) with solid results. Then, in 1968, when he was 21, he was invited to sail on Larchmont YC member Huey Long’s 72-foot maxi Ondine from Newport to Bermuda and then across the Atlantic. That would be his first of seven transatlantic crossings including skippering the famous racer Charisma from Bermuda to Spain in 1972, and Carina from Newport to England in 2015.
After the Navy, Rich attended Harvard Business School. Upon graduation he began a lifelong career in the shipping industry, first with Ogden Marine, then Chairman/CEO of Marine Transport Corp, and then as a partner in Intrepid Shipping helping build a fleet of modern ocean-going ships. It was through his professional life that Rich became a trustee, chairman and benefactor of one of his passions: the Seaman’s Church Institute in Newport, Rhode Island that serves mariners through education, pastoral care, and legal advocacy.
Moving to Larchmont in the early 1980s—in part due to his great memories of Race Weeks as a junior—Rich joined LYC in 1986. He and his wife Ann purchased an Express 37 he named after his wife, mother-in-law and daughter: Lora Ann. Rich loves tinkering with boats and that’s what has happened with Lora Ann over the decades. First it was the conversion from symmetrical to asymmetrical spinnakers, then optimizing the boat for double-handed racing, and finally building an emergency rudder (not just an emergency tiller). He recalls taking some older junior LYC sailors out in the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha with storm jib and trysail in 40-50 knots, followed by a feast at the Larchmont Diner.
The evolution of Lora Ann parallels Rich’s achievements in yacht racing. First, he is an internationally recognized expert and thought leader on safety-at-sea. Rich founded the Storm Trysail Club’s Junior Safety-at-Sea program in 1997 and ran it for almost 25 years, He and Butch Ulmer have also been the long-term leaders of STC’s adult Hands-on Safety-at-Sea Seminars. In 2020, he conceived of and organized the first STC Offshore Leadership Symposium with assistance from members of LYC, the New York Yacht Club, the Cruising Club of America and other safety-aware organizations.
Thanks to his tireless efforts developing and teaching offshore safety-at-sea techniques, Rich has received accolades from around the world. His racing CV is too long to include here, but in addition to his America’s Cup campaigns he’s sailed transatlantic seven times, done fourRolex Fastnet Races, the Transpac, the Rolex Sydney Hobart and many more, but his favorite is the Newport Bermuda Race.
Rich stands third on the all-time list of most Newport Bermuda Races, having done twenty-six. His lifelong sailing friend and Lora Ann crew, John Browning, remains one ahead. The record of thirty that Rich and John are targeting is held by the late Jim Mertz of American Yacht Club. Rich and his lifelong sailing (and now mountain climbing) partner Chris Reyling, have won their double-handed division four times, finished third three times, and won the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy twice!
Rich recalls the ’72 Bermuda Race when a hurricane shaped the strategies and the outcome. “I was navigating Charisma and we won our class. Overall, we came in second, beaten by a British boat on corrected time by eight minutes. We had gone about 75 miles east of rhumb to position ourselves for the hurricane, and that’s how I qualified for the Storm Trysail Club.”
Perhaps Rich’s most impressive double-handed sailing achievement took place in 2003 when he and Rich Wilson sailed Wilson’s 53-foot trimaran Great American II from Hong Kong to New York over 72 days, beating the 154-year-old Tea Route record set by the 196-foot fully-crewed clipper ship Seawitch. Over 360,000 children sailed along with the two Richs through online connectivity and newspaper accounts.
Rich has served as Commodore of the Storm Trysail Club, Vice Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, a Trustee for the New York Yacht Club, and he’s a member of the Cruising Club of America. He and Ann are enjoying the other side of yachting aboard their Hans Zimmer-built lobster boat Minerva. ■