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Robie Pierce Regattas set the bar high

by William L. Sandberg on 21 Jun 2012
Beyond Disabilities Racing Winners Robie Pierce
Covering four days from the 31st May through the 3rd June, there were two 2012 Robie Pierce Regattas for sailors with disabilities held at the Larchmont Yacht Club in partnership with the American Yacht Club of Rye, New York.

Sailed in a fleet of the two clubs' Ideal-18s, each fitted with special adaptations to suit each sailor's specific needs, the second annual Robie Pierce Women's Invitational was sailed on the first day followed by the Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta the final three days. This year's Robie Pierce Regattas attracted sailors from over a dozen states and provinces across the U.S. and Canada, making this a truly national event.

Winning a tie-breaker to take the Robie Pierce Women's Invitational was the crew of Julia Dorsett (Boca Raton, FL) and Audrey Kobayashi (Kingston, Ont.) with Jenny Davey (Montreal, Que.) as the able bodied (AB) crew. Donna Demarast (Waterbury, CT) and Bridget Bodo (Chicago, IL) with AB Kitty Mears (Brighton, MA) finished in second followed by last year's winner Sara Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, RI) sailing with Tammy Vernette (Noroton, CT) and AB Britt Hall (Noroton, CT) in third. After four races in shifting breezes, only two points separated five boats' scores demonstrating how competitive this Women's Invitational has become. The Robie Pierce Women's Invitational remains the world's only all-women adaptive sailing regatta.

Friday was to have been the opening day of the Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta, but the sailors arrived at Larchmont Yacht Club to find an easterly blowing down the Sound at 20+ knots. Given that one of the disabled sailors, by design of the adaptation, is always sitting to leeward, the day's racing was cancelled and, in its place, a single elimination, boat vs. boat bocce tournament was held on LYC's front lawn. Brenda Hopkin (Fairmont Hot Springs, BC) and Judy Kowalesky (San Diego, CA) prevailed to claim the bocce bragging rights.

Racing resumed Saturday morning and continued through early afternoon Sunday, with the fleet of 11 boats completing eight races. LYC's Commodore, Carl Olsson (Larchmont, NY), sailing with Susan King (New Rochelle, NY) and AB Com Crocker (New Rochelle, NY), dominated the series winning six races and placing second in the remaining two heats. In second place were Ted King (Brentwood, NH) and Jim Scott (Portsmouth, NH) sailing with AB Bill Sandberg (Riverside, CT) followed by Sara Everhart-Skeels sailing with Charlie Rosenfeld (Woodstock, CT) and her husband Brian Skeels as AB. Sunday's sailing was slightly curtailed, allowing the sailors to get to the docks and out of the boats before a major thunderstorm rolled across the Sound.

For full results, visit Yacht Scoring here

The two Robie Pierce Regattas have set a high bar for inclusion in competitive sailing. Each year, more first-time sailors crew for seasoned adaptive skippers, while others who may have sailed before becoming disabled rejoin the sport in this safe, positive environment.

Event Chair Buttons Padin from Larchmont Yacht Club noted that, 'While last weekend's racing was spectacular, and spectacularly executed by the Larchmont Yacht Club Race Committee, led by PRO Cynthia Parthemos, it was the camaraderie over the four days of the regatta that made this an amazing experience. It drew together old crewmates while new relationships were forged.' American Yacht Club's Co-Chair Siobhan Reilly added, 'Next year we'll be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Robie Pierce Regattas at AYC and our two clubs will work together to make next year as wonderful an experience for these sailors as the 2012 Robie was.'

The fifth Robie Pierce Regattas are scheduled to be held from Thursday, May 30 - Sunday, June 2, 2013 on the waters off American Yacht Club. Robie Pierce Regatta website
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