Class of 2021: Dick Rose

Published on October 11th, 2021

The U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame selected eleven sailors in 2021 to join the 90 previously-recognized individuals who have been enshrined since the first class in 2011.

Among the 11th class to be formally inducted on October 16 is Richard “Dick” Rose (1938-), a thirty-year member of World Sailing’s Racing Rules of Sailing Committee and considered “the” international authority on the Racing Rules of Sailing. He is profiled in this tribute by 2011 inductee Gary Jobson:

Dick Rose grew up sailing dinghies on Manhasset Bay, Long Island. He was accepted to attend Princeton University and led his team to a second place finish in the Intercollegiate National Championship his senior year in 1960. Rose was President of the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association while he was a college student (1959-1960).

As a 24-year-old sailor, he won the 1963 Long Island Sound Frostbite Championship hosted by the Larchmont Yacht Club, a victory which was written up in the New York Times. Rose represented the Port Washington Penguin fleet and the victory was an upset over the second place finisher that year, another Hall of Fame sailor Arthur Knapp, Jr. who was also a Princeton alumnus (1928).

Rose was one of the first top sailors to embrace the new Laser Class when it first appeared in 1971. He was a standout in several classes including Penguins, Lightnings, Snipes, International 14s, and Lasers. He married Carolle Spooner, an accomplished Canadian sailor in 1988.

After Princeton, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in mathematical psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Being a competitive sailor he studied the yacht racing rules closely. Today, Rose is considered to be “the” international authority on the Racing Rules of Sailing.

Rose is a thirty-year member of World Sailing’s Racing Rules of Sailing Committee. As boat designs change and race formats evolve, it is essential that the racing rules be updated. Every word in the text is carefully scrutinized before being published by World Sailing. The sport of sailing relies heavily on carefully defined rules which are published every four years after each Olympic Games.

The World Sailing Council debates every proposed change. This process puts considerable pressure on the rules committee. Dick Rose understands why changes need to be made and passionately argues on behalf of the committee. As a result, Dick Rose has become the highly respected author of the Racing Rules of Sailing.

For his work he has been awarded the Nathanael Greene Herreshoff Trophy, considered US Sailing’s highest honor (2012). He has served as the US Olympic Sailing Team rules advisor (1984, 1988, 1992) and has given countless presentations about the racing rules. He wrote a monthly column in Sailing World magazine to help readers understand the rules (1984-2019) and wrote the ‘One Design Racing’ column for Yachting magazine (1967-1980).

Between 2012 and 2016 I was on the Board of World Sailing. One of my assigned duties was serving as liaison between the Racing Rules Committee and the Board. I attended the committee meetings and watched Dick Rose and the other committee members consider changes. Rose listened carefully to each proposal, and when the presentation was finished, everyone in the room would look over at Rose for his assessment.

His first reaction was to ask questions. He never declared that a proposed rule change was out of line. His queries would spark fascinating conversations. Rose explained that part of the committee’s mission was to make the rules easier for sailors to understand.

He would patiently prod his colleagues to justify their ideas. After considerable debate the committee would agree to make an edit or a change to an existing rule and, if warranted, even create a new rule. In each case, Dick Rose would have a hand in the wording of the new text or rule.

The Class of 2021 will be formally inducted in a ceremony on October 16, 2021 in Newport, RI.

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