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Continuing the tradition for Robie Pierce

Published on June 4th, 2019

The 11th edition of the Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta for sailors with disabilities, which is named after one of the founding fathers of adaptive sailing, Robie Pierce, was held May 30 to June 2 in Rye, NY.

Racing got underway with the one-day Women’s Invitational on May 30 followed by three days of the Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta for men and women in specially adapted Ideal 18s.

Julia Dorsett, along with her crew Gabby Mitchell and Deb Frankel dominated the women’s competition with all firsts, and despite incurring a 20% scoring penalty assigned to any team with only one disabled sailor (and two ABs), they easily edged out the seven boat field.

The winner of the Gowrie Group Sportsmanship Award went to Jayne Betts.

Consistency in the 22-boat open event was hard to come by, but Shan McAdoo and his team of Maureen McKinnon and Kathy Whitehair did best with all top five scores after the discard to take the title. McKinnon, who was a gold medalist in the Qingdao 2008 Paralympic Games and on the winning crew three times, has raced in this regatta every year.

Coming out fast was newcomer Jim Hahn with bullets in the first two races, but despite getting pulled back to earth, was pleased with his fourth place finish after a skiing accident last year. “The Robie is hard-core sailboat racing, and I want to come back with the same team next year. I had so much fun racing big boats for 35 years, getting back in a boat again is terrific.”

JoAnn Stead won the Gowrie Group Sportsmanship Award.

Finishing 19th was Jason Wallenstein who was participating in his third Robie Pierce regatta. “It’s nice to be in a group of disabled sailors, because people don’t ask if I’m up to the challenge, they know I am. I wouldn’t want to miss this regatta.”

Jason noted that his crew Sherry Taylor, a blind sailor, has only been sailing for 4 weeks, and loves it. “She’s amazing and a ‘natural’ sailor,” he said. “Sherry started sailing in Arkansas and moved to Boston just so she could go sailing.”

Jason continued, “The thing that is awesome is that we can keep coming back to race again in this regatta. I love it. With my vision, it feels like I’m sailing with a twist to it because of my “field of vision.”

A father and son team racing again this year included Tilghman Logan, the youngest skipper in the regatta, who is 18. Philip Logan added that his son gets upset when Philip touches the tiller. “He wants control.” Overall, they finished 10th.

Captain Antonio Sanpere, 79 years old, and crew member David Flaherty, who is 78, were the oldest team and they placed 11th. They went to high school together in Connecticut and then went in different directions. After Antonio was badly injured in the Vietnam War, he moved to the Virgin Islands in 1969, sailed a Hobie Cat, and then, got into large boat sailing. Since then, he has sailed in paralympic events and a disabled sailing program. “I want to continue sailing and racing in big and small boats. It’s amazing,” he said.

Christina Luca, a blind sailor, has many interests that would daunt most people. She is a skydiver, a hang glider, and shoots a rifle that she aims based on sound. This is her second year of sailing, “I don’t have any fear, so don’t tell me I can’t do something, those are fighting words. I’ll do it the way I want to do it.”

Robbie Pierce Jr. spoke at the banquet on June 1 in an emotional speech and told everyone how much it meant to his father to come to this Regatta every year. He loved being at American Yacht Club for this event. “Everyone has such big smiles on their faces. I’m just so thrilled to be here and be part of this regatta, thank you.”

Co-Chair Bill Sandberg summed it up by saying, “The great thing about the Robie is that there is enough serious sailing for long time sailors, while providing a fun, learning experience for the newer ones.”

Event information Women’s detailsOpen details

11th Robie Pierce Regatta
2019 is the 11th year that American and Larchmont Yacht Clubs have hosted the Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta for sailors with disabilities, which is named after one of the founding fathers of adaptive sailing, Robie Pierce, whose son Robbie, Jr. will attend this year’s Regatta.

Over the years, the “Robie” has become one of the country’s foremost regattas for sailors with a broad array of disabilities including physical, neurological, and visual impairments. Competitors sail in specially adapted Ideal 18s. Each boat will be crewed by two sailors with disabilities and one able-bodied sailor, who will assist in an action or activity that the disabled sailors are unable to perform.

Siobhan Reilly and Bill Sandberg of American Yacht Club and Buttons Padin of Larchmont Yacht Club have jointly chaired the Robie for 11 years. US Sailing awarded the Co-Founders of the Robie Pierce (Buttons Padin, Siobhan Reilly, and Bill Sandberg) with the Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy for their outstanding contributions to sailors with disabilities and to adaptive sailing.

Source: Robie Pierce Regatta

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