Randy Smyth

North America's top multihull sailor

Randolph Lyle Smyth (b. 1954) won his first catamaran race at age 11, in 1965, sailing his Aquacat the 25 miles from Long Beach, Calif., to Catalina Island with his nine-year-old brother David as crew. "It was in my blood pretty early on," says Smyth, who went on to win five Worrell 1000s and two Olympic silver medals. His first boat was a Sabot pram, but the $695 Aquacat was twice as fast and, says Smyth, "you could take more friends along." The family of seven also had a Cal 24; Smyth was second oldest and proved his talent on the tiller: "We'd line up all the kids on the rail and do pretty good when it was breezy," he says. What started as a pastime "for enjoyment more than anything-capsizing and playing around" soon became more serious. Sailmaker Rick Taylor hired Smyth part-time at age 16 and took him to Germany the next year for the Tornado Worlds. Smyth credits Taylor with teaching him to be a perfectionist as a sailmaker. He also credits U.S. Sailing Team coach Robert Hopkins for teaching him an analytical, disciplined approach to finding the speed he needed in his Olympic campaign 12 years later. Without formal schooling, Smyth improved his ability to analyze sail shape and later, before the '92 Olympics, ran his own successful training camp.Smyth is driven to take on the next challenge. "I could never be in the same one-design my whole life," he says. "The beauty of the sport is that even within multihulls, there's such variety. Building the big cats with Dennis Conner in 1988 was like being a kid in a candy store." With Gino Morrelli, Smyth was in charge of the rapid development of the soft-sail Stars & Stripes rig and says his job was to answer the question: 'How fast can you go in 6 months?'"When pro racing hit North America in the late '80s, he dominated in the ProSail Formula 40s all three years the circuit existed. "It was super-short-course racing," he says, "in big crazy monster boats, with a crew that's totally aerobic the whole time. It was high stakes and high thrill, not to mention the prize money. It's hard to imagine anything better."In 2002, Smyth's quest for diversity found him in the Southern Ocean one night going over 40 knots aboard Cam Lewis's Team Adventure during The Race. "That really gets your nosebleed rolling," he says, remembering the race as a progression of iceberg avoidance and spinal injuries for crewmembers, in short, "top-of-the-line insanity." Smyth was also the sailing consultant and skipper for Kevin Costner in Waterworld and Pierce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair, two Hollywood hits. Last spring, in 2003, his three-person sailmaking design company, The Smyth Team, took on a more mundane task, organizing the Corsair Nationals in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. It's not hard to guess who won overall. Sailing World conducted an interview with Randy Smyth soon after his induction into the Hall of Fame-to read, click here