Sailor of the Week: Jan. 6-12
Multihull racing is on the rise thanks to countless sailors and volunteers who are running first-class events around the country, as well as introducing this form of exciting sailing to beginners. Bob Hodges of Covington, La. is one of these contributors making a difference in the multihull sailing community.
Bob, a member of the Pontchartrain Yacht Club, has been class president of the United States A-Class Catamaran Association since 2004. During his watch, the class in the U.S. has doubled in size which has helped foster the development of some of the most talented sailors in the country.
“I think the growth of our class in the U.S. over the last six to eight years is attributed to several factors,” Bob explained. “One has been the establishment of districts that promote regional racing. Another has been better publicity and visibility through our own website and the internet based sailing media. But the most important factor has been the attitude of the sailors who make the events fun, share knowledge, and create an atmosphere where new A-Class sailors feel extremely welcome.”
Bob’s passion for sailing began with his first sail in Mobile, Ala. at the Buccaneer Yacht Club in 1970 when his father, a powerboat enthusiast, became a member of the club. His first sailing experience began on a Fishboat, which was once used as the interclub racing boat of the Gulf Yachting Association. “That first sail in a 50 year old gaff rigged 22-foot keelboat sank the hook, and it’s as fresh in my mind today as it was the day it happened,” said Bob.
He eventually started sailing a variety of different boats competitively, including Finns, Thistles, Lasers, Snipes, and Lightnings. Bob has raced in two Laser World Championships, and in 1994 he finished second at the U.S. Laser Masters National Championship. In 1984, Bob won the Snipe Don Q Midwinter Regatta in a record fleet of 66 boats. Bob joined the windsurfing community in 1985 and experienced immediate success. He competed in two Olympic campaigns in the Division II Sailboard in 1988 and the Tornado in 1996. Although Bob didn’t qualify for the Olympics, he treasured the experiences. “I felt in each campaign, my participation was important to preparing the winner of the trials to be a viable contender for an Olympic medal, which made me feel extremely proud,” said Bob.
After the trials, Bob’s sailing interests shifted to the A-Class Catamaran. He has podium finishes at the 2006 and 2009 North American Championships. He also owns and races a Corsair Sprint 750 sport trimaran. During a race at the 2009 Corsair Trimaran Nationals, hosted by the Pensacola Yacht Club, a competing Sprint 750 lost its daggerboard in the high winds and rough seas of the Gulf of Mexico. Bob had a spare daggerboard at his home in Louisiana and with the help of a home yacht club friend he arranged for it to be sent overnight to Pensacola. Meanwhile, Donnie worked most of the night and had the repaired boat on the starting line the next morning. This was a testament to Bob’s sportsmanship and an example of how much he cares about his fellow sailors and competitors.
This week Bob is competing at the first round of the 2011 U.S. A-Class Catamaran Winter Circuit in Islamorada, Fla. He is competing with elite sailors including Ben Hall, Matt Struble, Randy Smyth, Morgan Larson, and Terry Hutchinson.
"Multihull racing is a growing segment of the sport because the technology is getting better both in high performance beach cats and cruising boats, and people are embracing it. The America's Cup adds a little punch and legitimacy to our segment of the sport. It’s good that skiff technology is trickling down to dinghies, especially youth boats."