Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

BoatUS Chairman and Founder Richard Schwartz set to pass the torch

by D. Scott Croft on 20 Jun 2013
. .
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) Chairman and Founder Richard Schwartz has announced his retirement from a 47-year run as the leader of the half-million-member boating association, effective July 1, 2013. He passes the torch of the nation's number one boat-owners advocate to BoatUS President Margaret Bonds Podlich and other key leadership staff. He will remain Chairman of the BoatUS Board of Directors as well as Chairman of the BoatUS National Advisory Council.

The creation of the nation's largest and most influential recreational boating organization all began with a day on the water back in the early 1960's. Schwartz was invited aboard a friend's boat, and, soon after departing the dock, the vessel's owner was given a ticket for improper engine compartment ventilation - which Schwartz viewed as clearly unfair as the owner had no responsibility for the boat's construction. A Princeton and Yale Law School graduate and young anti-trust attorney at the time, Schwartz asked his boating friends if there was anyone fighting for their interests - and the answer was no.

With that incident, BoatUS was born with a mission of 'service, savings and representation.' Just a few years later, Schwartz's Capitol Hill testimony resulted in the watershed Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971 which gave the US Coast Guard the power to hold manufacturers accountable for certain safety standards - including engine compartment ventilation - and created the US Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety, saving countless lives.

With grace, grit and determination, Schwartz went head-first after the problems affecting recreational boaters, often persuasively leading the opposition to draw its own like-minded conclusion, and sometimes taking a more direct approach with testimony laced with his characteristic, 'That's outrageous!'

Schwartz was the first to fight for legislation on behalf of boaters, and his efforts at shaping national boating policy helped secure passage of the Recreational Boating Safety and Facilities Improvement Act of 1979 - also known as the Biaggi Bill - which affirmed that taxes and fees paid by boaters should support boating programs. He later was a vocal opponent to user fees and the highly unpopular luxury tax (1992) and the diesel fuel tax (1997), both of which were repealed. In 1984, Schwartz was widely credited in leading the passage of the federal Wallop/Breaux Trust Fund Amendment, today part of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund that now returns over $650 million annually to federal and state boating and fishing programs.

Taking advantage of America's post-war boom in recreational boating, Schwartz led an organization that was an early pioneer in discount marine retailing, starting with a single product - a floating flashlight - eventually opening a nationwide chain of 62 BoatUS retail stores. He also made BoatUS a major influence on the national boating safety stage with the development of the 501(c)3 nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, which runs innovative programs ranging from the free Online Boating Safety Course to the only nationwide Life Jacket Loaner Program for Kids and EPIRB rental programs. When Congress directed the US Coast Guard to stop providing routine on-the-water assistance in the 1980's, Schwartz created the largest on-the-water towing service in the nation, the red boats of BoatUS Towing Services.

Schwartz created the only Consumer Protection Bureau for boaters to seek redress with manufacturers, suppliers or businesses as well as a Dispute Mediation Program. BoatUS Reports, the association's early member newsletter, eventually grew to become BoatUS Magazine, the largest boating magazine in the country with over half a million circulation.

The BoatUS Marine Insurance program, started in 1967, offered the first recreational boat policy in clear, understandable language rather than the unintelligible, centuries-old, commercial ship language from Lloyd's of London. Schwartz wrote a primer on what a boat policy should have in plain English, which today has been adopted industry-wide.

Long before there was publicly available data on the causes of insurance claims, BoatUS developed the only recreational boat Damage Avoidance program and publication to help BoatUS members avoid claims and injuries, Seaworthy. BoatUS insurance programs now total over $8 billion in hull value.

Ironically, in the early years Schwartz didn't own a boat. However, his current fleet of watercraft including a favored 22-foot Chris Craft rumble seat runabout and 42-foot catamaran deck boat for family runs to the local crab shack are the center of family life.

Schwartz helped found and then later served on the National Safe Boating Council and has received a wide range of awards, including: the Council's Hall of Fame Award (1995); the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators' Annual Award (1983) and Lifetime Achievement Award (1999); the US Coast Guard's Distinguished Public Service Commendation (2000); the US Power Squadron's Raymond A. Finlay Sea Scout Service Award (2005); and the National Marine Manufacturers Association's Charles S. Chapman Award (2006). In 2007 he was the national spokesman for the US Coast Guard's Auxiliary Vessel Safety Check program and was also awarded Honorary Commodore status.

Said the 83-year-old Schwartz, 'We've become the largest boat owners organization in the US and fought major boating battles along the way, making life better, and safer for boaters and all the while creating the services that make the boating experience better. Boating should be a pleasure - not a hassle. I am proud to have led this organization and even prouder of our staff who deliver the BoatUS service every day.'

'Richard changed the game for boaters at a time when no one was looking out for them,' said BoatUS President Margaret Bonds Podlich. 'He proved that boaters, who come from all walks of life and enjoy being on the water so many different ways, could unite to solve their challenges. It is an all-inclusive approach to recreational boating issues that got results and this philosophy will remain the core of BoatUS. There are so many of us who have benefited from his range of work and expertise.' BoatUS website

T Clewring AC72Southern Spars - 100Naiad

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr