Calling it quits after seven decades

Published on July 25th, 2019

While there are 160+ boats entered for the 2019 NOOD Regatta at Marblehead Race Week on July 25-28, those closely familiar with the event will notice a gaping hole in the event’s lineup.

Longtime sailor Norm Cressy will not be taking part in this year’s race after officially retiring from the sport. The 80-year-old Marblehead resident’s first appearance came back in 1949, and he managed to sail in every Race Week since.

“You can be 80 years old sailing against a bunch of 20-year-olds and still have a shot to beat them,” said Cressy. “There aren’t a lot of sports you can say that about — and it’s why I did it for so long.”

And Cressy made that point a year at Marblehead Race Week by winning the IOD class with his longtime pal Bruce Dyson, a 76-year-old Marblehead resident, but finds the timing right to now accept his age.

“It’s definitely time (to retire) for me,” said Cressy who cited safety as the deciding factor in his retirement. “For the first time since I’ve been doing this, it started to feel unsafe out there. Even when I was down at the docks the other day helping Bruce (Dyson) get the sails up … I knew it was the right decision.”

Cressy and Dyson’s relationship extends back to their mid-twenties. Both owned sailmaking shops in Swampscott and while their businesses competed against each other, that didn’t prevent them from forming a lifelong friendship.

“If one of us needed something, the other was always there,” said Dyson of his friend. “There were never any hostile actions or ill feelings toward each other … competing against each other definitely made us better.”

From then on, the avid sailors were in the thick of every Race Week and became Marblehead heroes in the process.

“Seven decades is a good time to call it quits,” laughed Cressy. “Even after looking at all the guys get their sails ready and all the different competitors fill in … I know I made the right choice.”

Even if Cressy’s time out on the sea has sailed away, he’ll never forget the terrific times he’s had and the friends he’s made on the water over the last seven decades.

“So many great moments in my life happened during Marblehead Race Week,” said Cressy. “I think my favorite was back in 1985 — it was a beautiful sunny day and I remember being out there with my two kids and being filled with happiness. So many moments like that are scattered throughout the years.”

Source: The Salem News

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