Jan 9, 2012, 6:10 AM
Post #2 of 10
Submitted by friends of Rob:
Re: [The Publisher] EIGHT BELLS: Rob Moore
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The sailing community lost a favored son last week. Latitude 38 lost a treasured former colleague, and scores of sailors around the nation and the globe lost a personal friend with the passing of Rob Moore, who died peacefully at home on the afternoon of January 5, surrounded by family.
Robert Kent Moore was born on September 26, 1953, in New London, Connecticut, to Kent and Marge Moore. He and younger sister Marnie were raised in Mystic, and their playground was the waters nearby. Rob was a mischievous and energetic youngster, always pushing the envelope for new adventures. His parents were avid sailors on Long Island Sound (young Rob helped his father build several boats in the backyard) and introduced the children to sailing at an early age. Rob loved sailing from the start, but became easily bored by the sedate pace of cruising and daysailing. His penchant for more excitement soon had him seeking spots on racing boats, where he proved a quick learner. By the time Rob enrolled in Brown University, where he would earn a degree in American Civilization, he was already an accomplished sailor and a key member of the Brown Sailing Team, along with Eric Kreuter, Brad Dellenbaugh, John Burnham and others. By the time he got his MBA from Columbia, he had several Block Island Race Weeks and Bermuda Races under his belt, and was a sought-after crew and delivery skipper.
Rob first came to San Francisco in 1978, ostensibly to look for a job in finance, but also because he wanted so see firsthand this place where they said the wind blew hard all summer and the tides ran strong. He was not disappointed. His first few sails were aboard various boats, but his first real regular big-boat ride was with Bill Twist on Bill’s Peterson 43 ‘Stuff’. Rob was so hooked on local sailing that his family remembers he didn’t even come home to pack. He just got a job (eventually working for Twist) and bought new clothes and other necessities as he needed them.
The first boat Rob owned on the Bay was Urban Guerilla, a well-used Santana 20 that had achieved minor notoreity by broaching and sinking during a race on the Berkeley Circle. (There’s a great Dianne Beeston photo of just the top 4 feet or so of the mast and sail sticking out of the water.) As the story goes, the then owner tied a floating bottle to it, collected the insurance, went out and raised the boat, hosed out the mud — and sold it to Rob.
Within a year of moving West, Rob met Carl Schumacher. The two immediately hit it off and became close friends. Rob eventually bought Summertime Dream, the 26-ft quarter tonner designed and put together by Schumacher in 1979, and whose win in the Quarter Tonner Nationals that year launched Carl’s career as a naval architect. Schumacher was a huge help in ‘educating’ the Connecticut Yankee in how to sail the Bay’s tricky waters. Rob and Carl sailed together many times, and Carl even ‘awarded’ Rob one of the first major trophies the boat had won, which was a half-hull. No matter where he lived, Rob hung that half-hull in a place of honor in the house, while most of his other silverware from various races — and there was a lot of it — languished on shelves or counters filled with paper clips or M&Ms. (Over the years, Rob also owned and sailed Sundance [SC 27], Grumpy Old Men [another Santana 20], Confederacy of Dunces [Holder 20 trailered to various venues for the Lake Circuit] and E Ticket [Olson 25].)
One of the great Rob stories was that he ‘owned’ Summertime Dream three different times. Rob financed the first two sales himself. The first owner defaulted on the note and gave the boat back. The second time it went to a rich kid from Brazil (who painted it dark blue and affixed the giant letters BRA to the mainsail). He offered to trade it back to Rob for a Hobie 16 (!), so Rob went out, found a cheap Hobie Cat, and got the ‘Dream' back again. The third sale was a charm, because it ‘stuck’. Notably, Rob sold the boat at a profit each time.
Rob first came to the attention of Latitude 38 when he won his IOR class on Summertime Dream in the mid-80s and was featured in our Season Champions series. (This writer recalls his initial impression of Rob as being a cross between a red-haired Mark Twain and the Lion King.) Rob later submitted an article on the 12-Meter Worlds which appeared in the March, 1986, edition. Ever one to buck tradition, Rob finally said good-bye to the world of high finance (where he once received a new BMW as a holiday bonus) and hello to the ink-stained, midnight-oil-burning, largely thankless life of a journalist in October of the next year, when he was hired to be Latitude’s new Racing Editor.
By that time, Rob had done more racing, and knew more about racing — locally, nationally and internationally — than the entire rest of the staff combined. And that included all the past employees. Among the many left coast events on his resume by then: A Puerto Vallarta Race (on the SC70 Citius), two Cabo Races (E37 ReQuest and Farr One Ton White Knight), two TransPacs (E37 Morningstar), a Kenwood Cup (Bladerunner, R/P 47), Antigua Race Week (Kookaburra, Swan 46), a handfull of Big Boat Series (most aboard Bladerunner) and literally every local event on the Bay and in the ocean — back when the latter meant brutal boat-busting 100 or 200-mile courses like the Buckner and Jr. Waterhouse. (Once asked if he knew the date that the Australians finally wrested the America’s Cup away from the New York YC, Rob immediately replied September 26, 1983. When asked how he knew that, he said, “Number one, it was my 30th birthday. And number two, that’s also the day we got dismasted in the ocean on Summertime Dream and had to be towed in by the Coast Guard.”)
By the time he stopped making entries in his sailing resume in 2009, Rob had compiled at least a dozen Coastal Cups, 10 MEXORCs, 6 Ensenada Races, 2 Swan Worlds (in Sardinia), 4 Bermuda Races, several Key West Race Weeks, 1 Pacific Cup and 1 Pineapple Cup (Ft. Lauderdale to Montego Bay, through the famed Windward Passage). He was a two-time winning crew (for Paul Cayard and Ed Baird) in the Bitter End YC Pro-Am, and a four-time winning crew for John Jennings in the Masters Regatta.
That’s not to mention the many races he also sailed locally, or the fact that Rob often delivered the boats he raced on back from Mexico, Hawaii, Florida or other ports. Or the time he devoted to race management at the Sausalito YC and later Corinthian YC. (He was also a member of the prestigious Storm Trysail Club.) Or his longtime duties on the Bay Area PHRF Committee. Or his many years of being part of the selection committee for the Rolex Yachtsman/Yachtswoman of the Year awards.
His rides varied from small craft — like Confederacy of Dunces, which he trailed to various venues on the Lake Circuit, to big boats like Swans (including Moneypenny, a Swan 601), and sleds (various SC 70s and the N/M 68 Pandemonium). Favorite boats/campaigns over the years included the years spent aboard Bladerunner, the Andrews 43 It’s OK! and Morpheus, a Schumacher 50 owned by Jim Gregory — who Rob taught to sail in Stamford, CT years before. As Rob, ever humble, observed a while back, “He now teaches me.” Responds Jim: “Rob was always my favorite person to sail with.”
Epic non-racing highlights of Rob’s long sailing career include a Florida-to-Connecticut delivery in hellacious conditions (the wind instruments blew off the mast but later reports indicated 60 knots) with Eric Kreuter “when we were in college and didn’t know any better;” and “playing roofball with Drake Sparkman at Block Island Race Week.”
Rob’s 18 years at Latitude 38 were rife with stress, long hours, occasional all-nighters, ‘deadline dinners’ consisting of a family-size bag of Fritos and a six-pack of soda, occasional embarassment, epic writing, epic friendships, epic creativity, and lots of laughter. Lots of it.
To the initial dismay of this writer, who sat next to him through the whole campaign, Rob was a natural. Right out of the blocks, he had a great feel for the amount of coverage each event needed. His already encyclopedic knowledge came through with each piece, and he was so fanatical about getting things right that — more than once — he called a source very late, sometimes literally midnight, to check the spelling of a crewmember’s name. (Is that Tracy with an “i” or a “y”?)
Robs integrity in matters of writing — and life — set the bar high, and elevated all of the writing at the magazine. Particularly his oft-phrased admonishment to “add value”. To Rob, it made no sense to run something, such as a press release, verbatim. His reasoning was that it was probably going to appear in 100 other publications and that just rerunning it again added no value. So he added value — by calling all the principles involved in the release and constructing more of a ‘true’ article out of it, which usually included much more pertinent and up-to-date information. His articles were the same way. Everything Rob wrote added insight — and value — to the event and the sport as a whole. Few other writers in any sport are able to achieve this on a consistent basis.
Rob’s writing expertise extended beyond just racing. When 9/11 happened just weeks before the 2001 Big Boat Series — and that year’s regatta was (appropriately) cancelled — we were all in shock like the rest of the world. But we also now had eight blank pages to fill. In just a few short days, Rob put together the Big Boat Retrospective, one of the most fun, bittersweet and entertaining pieces ever to run in the magazine. While tracing the BBS from its origins in the ‘60s to present-day, Rob hit all the right buttons and ran all the right photos, mentioning such legendary boats as Baruna, Imp and Kialoa, and running photos of ‘young guns’ like Dave Ullman, Dennis Conner and Tom Blackaller back when they were still considered mortals.
And when that weather bomb exploded on the 1998 Sydney-Hobart fleet, taking the lives of 6 sailors with more than 50 others being airlifted off maimed and sinking boats? Rob wrote that story, too. To this day, it is the most concise, accurate and horrific account of that tragedy short of the book that later came out.
The most difficult assignment Rob ever had? The memorial article he wrote about friend and mentor Carl Schumacher after Carl’s untimely passing in early 2002.
Rob left Latitude 38 in the fall of 2005. He continued to sail throughout most of 2010, preferring in this phase of life to ‘go retro’ as part of Hank Easom’s crew on the lovely 1937 8-Meter Yucca.
In the summer of 2009, Rob developed a persistent cough. When it wouldn’t go away, he went to the doctor. Three times he was told it was nothing serious, given medication and sent home. The cough persisted. Urged to get a second opinion, he did, and it was a shocker. Just before Christmas of ‘09, he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer — the most advanced stage. He never smoked. He was given nine months to live.
He responded well to the inital chemotherapy regimen. His cough went away and he resumed an outwardly robust existence. The chemo, combined with living clean, eating healthy, and the love and devotion of wife, Leslie, allowed Rob to lead a mostly normal life for two more years. Even the doctors were amazed.
To say he treasured every single day of it wound be understatement.
Besides sailing, it was time enough to devote a few more months to his second love — hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Although his career and most of his free time was dedicated to sailing, spending time in the wilderness fed Rob’s soul. Over a period of several years, Rob and Leslie had begun construction of a yurt (a sort of round, bent-wood-framed “cabin”) on a remote piece of land in the San Juan Islands. Now they dedicated time to finishing it, and spent many a summer month living and hiking in the surrounding wilderness.
Closer to home, they made regular treks to Mt. Tam and other nearby hiking grounds such as Yosemite. But what Rob relished most were his trips to southwest Utah to visit places like Moab, Red Rocks and Indian ruins — former stomping grounds of his favorite author, Edward Abbey, who wrote Rob’s favorite book, Desert Solitaire. Among the many memorable word images from that book:
“May your rivers flow without end . . . where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags . . . where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”
Fair winds, old friend. Thanks for adding value to all of our lives. The world will not be the same without you.
— xxx —
Rob is survived by his wife, Leslie, Mother Marge, Sister Marnie, her husband, Scott, and her children Philip and Katherine. Anyone interested in honoring Rob with a donation are encouraged to do so in his name to the National Lung Cancer Partnership, (nationallungcancerpartnership.org), Hospice By the Bay (hospicebythebay.org), or through a special fund set up at the Marin Community Foundation (marincf.org.)