Honoring Robbie Doyle
Honoring Robbie DoyleReport Abuse
Periodically, Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Mass., presents its Charles Francis Adams Memorial Trophy to a distinguished sailor. The club does not hand out this award every year. Last Tuesday at a newly renovated clubhouse, Ted Turner and I joined 220 club members to honor Robbie Doyle with this prestigious award.
The award's namesake, C.F. Adams, was the one-time secretary of the Navy. In 1920, he was the first amateur to steer an America's Cup defender, Resolute, which defeated Shamrock IV 3-2 in a very emotional series. Adams was an icon of New England sailing.
Honoree Robbie Doyle enjoyed racing success from an early age. He won the Sears Cup two times and was a three-time All-American at Harvard. In 1968, at the age of 18, he just missed qualifying in the Finn class for the Olympics. Robbie was planning to go to medical school after graduation, but Ted Hood convinced him to start a career in sailmaking.
As mainsail trimmer and sailmaker for Courageous, Robbie was a key player when we successfully defended the America's Cup in 1977. During last week's ceremony, Ted Turner commented on Robbie's contribution to the campaign. "Robbie is a very analytic person with a natural gift for sailing," said Turner. "It is rare that an artist and a scientist can be one person, but this defines Robbie Doyle."
Also in attendance were Robbie's family and former Adams Award recipients Jud Smith and Dave Curtis. In his acceptance speech, Robbie delivered a few gracious comments:
"So, how did I get here? I had many instructors along the way including Mary Hogan, Jon Wales, and our own Phil Smith, to name a few. But in many ways I learned to sail and race in much the way Charles Francis Adams did. I routinely sailed my 8-foot turnabout to and from our home on Fluen Point to both Pleon and the weekend races. I usually did this trek sailing against my older brother, Richie. Not a bad sparring partner, as Richie went on to win College Sailor of the Year. I can tell you the results of the official racing were nowhere near as important as who got home first!
"The neighborhood from which I roamed was a bit unique in sailing. Next door to us were Jon and Steve Wales. They were a bit higher on the pecking order, as they sailed their elegant, sleek 110s back and forth while Richie and I sailed our turnabouts. In the next house was Dave Smith (father of Jud). When Dave was not off winning a gold medal, he could often be seen sailing up Salem Harbor as foredeck boss aboard the 12-meter Nefertiti. As we all know, Jud is still learning to sail, and once he figures out the Star boat he could be really good!"
In recent years Robbie's company, formed in 1982, has become a leader in building sails for megayachts like Maltese Falcon and Mirabella.