editor’s letter: Jim and Charlie
Or Charlie and Jim. I first met them at the Sperry Top-Sider Caribbean NOOD Championship. Charlie earned the invitation as crew on the winning Rhodes 19 at the Marblehead NOOD, and Jim—Charlie’s friend and boat partner in a separate Rhodes 19—came along for the fun. They immediately struck me as two regular, happy-go-lucky guys, passionate racers enjoying the good life like the rest of us.
I met them again at this summer’s Marblehead NOOD. They each had the same beaming smiles and genuine enthusiasm. They won the Rhodes 19 class the following day, after a nail-bitter with their local rivals. They collected their awards, bringing their respective broods of kids to the stage, and smiled for the camera. Something struck me as I watched them celebrate and pat each other on the back. I wondered, “What’s with these guys?”
So, separately, I got their stories of how this Rhodes 19 team came to be. I quickly learned that what makes them fast has nothing to do with their sails or their hull. It’s their chemistry.
The short story goes something like this: As Charlie remembers it, Jim, who was relatively new to sailing, bought himself a beater Rhodes, buffed it at the nearby speed shop, and then sailed in the local fleet with middling results. Charlie, a more formally trained and top-ranked sailor, was boatless at the time and crewing around the fleet. One day, Jim asked Charlie to crew. They won that race, and before the second one, Jim said, “Now, you drive.” They got a second, and, says Charlie, they knew they were onto something good.
On the sail in, Charlie casually mentioned he was looking to buy a Rhodes himself (actually, Charlie’s wife was offering to buy him one for his 40th birthday). “As soon as I said it,” says Charlie, “Jim slapped his hand on the deck and said, ‘Buy half my Rhodes!’”
The next morning, Charlie handed over a check. Since then, they’ve won two Rhodes 19 national titles, and numerous local regattas. And the chemistry, they say, just keeps getting better. “I’d been sailing competitively for a long time,” says Charlie. “I burned out. But Jim’s love for the sport is infectious, and seeing his enjoyment, makes me want to go sailing.”
At their first Nationals, they determined they’d switch roles and see how it went. Whoever had the best individual score would drive the final day. On a coin toss, Charlie won the helm, and they led at the end of the day. Then, they switched. “We were thinking, ‘Should we really do this?’” says Jim. “I’m sure people were thinking we were crazy.” But Jim kept them in the hunt, and Charlie sealed the win.
As far as Jim is concerned, the magic is that they enjoy being on the water together for hours on end. “People are always commenting that they can hear us laughing all the time,” he says.
And that’s the way it is onboard Bight Me. Sometimes it’s Charlie driving, sometimes it’s Jim, but either way, they’re winning, and they’re having fun. That’s good chemistry.
Dave Reed, Editor