Class of 2017: Randy Smyth
Published on September 18th, 2017
The U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame selected eight people in 2017 to join the 57 previously-recognized individuals who have been enshrined since the first class in 2011.
Among this group to be officially inducted on September 24 is two-time Tornado Olympic Silver Medalist Randy Smyth (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.), whose expertise as a catamaran sailor led to, among other things, work on major motion pictures. This tribute is provided by 2011 inductee Gary Jobson:
How many Americans can say they have been on a winning America’s Cup crew and have won an Olympic medal in sailing? Randy Smyth is a member of that elite club (for the record there are nine).
Soon after Dennis Conner on Stars & Stripes defeated the Australians to take the America’s Cup to his home, San Diego Yacht Club in 1987, he received an unexpected challenge from New Zealand’s Cup challenge in 1988. Conner defended the Cup with a catamaran and got a huge assist from his wing trimmer, catamaran ace and Olympic silver medalist Randy Smyth. And, for good measure, Smyth won a second silver in 1992 in Barcelona.
His multihull prowess started at a young age. Along with his 9-year-old brother, David, Randy won his first catamaran race at the age of 11. The brothers raced an Aqua Cat 25 miles from Long Beach, California out to Catalina Island. Like most Southern Californian sailors, young Randy had a singlehanded Sabot, but the Aqua Cat was faster, and he says, “I could take friends along.”
Later in 1968 he crewed for Rick Taylor in Germany in the first Tornado World Championship. In 1981 and again in 1982, Smyth and his crew Jay Glaser won back to back Worlds.
Smyth’s list of achievements includes both inshore racing and long-distance contests. In the 1980s a grueling 1000-mile multihull race was sailed between Daytona Beach, Florida and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Smyth won the contest in a record 75 hours. No one ever sailed the course faster. His resume includes 55 national, continental and world championship victories in a variety of multihulls. Today he is a highly regarded coach and advisor.
Randy Smyth has also had fun with the media. He consulted on two Hollywood films and sailed different catamarans for Kevin Costner in Waterworld, and Pierce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair. In 2010 he commentated on the America’s Cup for ESPN, and in 2016 covered the Rio Olympic Games for NBC.
As an aside, the other eight Americans with both Olympic medals and America’s Cup victories on the resume include: George O’Day, Eric Ridder, Dennis Conner, Conn Findlay, John Marshall, Carl Buchan, Buddy Melges, and John Kostecki.
BONUS: As part of the 2017 National Sailing Hall of Fame Induction weekend, there will be a free panel discussion on September 23 from 10-11am at the New York Yacht Club Harbour Court in Newport, R.I. All ages are encouraged to witness the panel comprised of the current class of inductees, as well as local Olympian Louisa Chafee, and will be moderated by Jerry Kirby. Register now by clicking here.