Sailor of the Week: August 8-14
With a victory margin of over three and half hours, Rives Potts sailed Carina, a 48-foot sloop, to victory at last month’s Newport Bermuda Race. Fifteen years ago Rives bought Carina, built in 1969, and has competed in the Newport Bermuda Races with her since 2000. During this stretch, Carina has won her individual class four times and the race once.
After winning the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, Rives attributes his success to a good boat, good crew and good lucky. In addition, Rives had a distinct plan when he set out for the race. After the start, he stayed near the rhumb line while many other boats worked to the west. This initial strategic decision, along with tactical decisions made during a line of black squalls, and a strong crew led Carina to an impressive victory.
In preparation for the Newport Bermuda Race, Rives believed he needed to get to know Carina better and make sure they were sailing to her potential. Rives acquired US SAILING’s Performance Package and Race Optimization Package to maximize Carina’s strengths.
“Jim Teeters (US SAILING) helped us analyze the different possible sail configurations and how they would perform in the various weather conditions against our closest competitors,” said Rives. “He also provided updated polars that helped us figure our target boat speeds for the various conditions. In the end, we took the conservative approach and decided to keep Carina in her traditional configuration and sail her the best we could.” Rives added, “It was a good exercise and it helped us get our head in the game, more than before.”
Rives’ crew consisted of close family and friends who worked as a cohesive unit throughout the race. His reason for buying Carina in the first place was so that he could take his sons sailing with him. Allen and Walker went on their first Newport Bermuda Race with Rives when they were young teenagers, and have raced in every one of them except the two they missed while serving in the Marine Corps. “My most cherished times spent during the race is with my sons on the weather rail on a star-lit night talking about all things, big and small.”
Rives started sailing when he 5-years-old on a Sailfish that his father built in their garage. He grew up racing and cruising with his family on Chesapeake Bay. He later graduated from the Virginia Military Institute. Rives has been an accomplished ocean racer for quite some time, and has participated in five America’s Cup campaigns while serving a number of roles including, project manager, trimmer and grinder. “I consider myself to be the luckiest guy in the world, to have had a father and friends that encouraged me to start sailing, and to have so many mentors during my life that have taught me so much and given me so many opportunities.”
Looking to the future, Rives is planning to compete in the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series and the Transatlantic Race next summer. He hopes to continue sharing his love of sailing with younger generations. He states, “If I can do anything to help young people enjoy the experiences and life lessons that I have found through sailing, then I will do it. Sailing is good clean fun, whether you are cruising or racing, on big boats or small, out in the ocean or on a small lake, it is all good.”