Apr 22, 2012, 1:39 PM
Post #1 of 2
Bobby Connell, 71, of Wakefield, RI and Key Biscayne, FL, has set his last storm trysail, dying on April 17 in Miami, FL.Sailing his lightning Blue Cloud in Port Washington in the 1950’s with his brother Andy, Bobby said “Andy, if you yell at me one more time, I am jumping over.” Andy yelled, Bobby jumped, and that was that.
EIGHT BELLS - Bob Connell
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If he wasn’t having fun, he did not want to do it. Bobby sailed in a big boat for the first time with Bizzy Monte-Sano on Bizzy’s father Vinnie’s 36 foot Alden in a junior overnight race. With Bobby sitting on the foredeck, Vinnie approached and asked him if he needed anything. Bobby replied, “I could use a cushion and a beer.”
With a little time away from sailing for school in Long Island and college at Villanova, he was always at the front end of the fleet, and by 1960 was sailing 12 metres with Bus Mosbacher on Easterner. After sailing on Columbia with Glit Shields in 1962, he won the America’s Cup with Bob Bavier on Constellation in ’64 and again in ’67, on Intrepid, with Bus.
After time in Vietnam and with Bertram Yachts, he was asked back to the defender trials on Independence by Ted Hood in 1977 because he was well known as the “calm organized guy who could make the middle of the boat work right.” From 1977 to 1986, with Andy MacGowan, he ran Newport Offshore, quietly dispensing his leadership, knowledge, and friendship to customers and workers alike. There they built 4 more America’s Cup 12 metres: Clipper, Spirit of America, Defender, and Liberty. He spent his later years as a marine surveyor, but continued racing 12 metres right through last year, an amazing 51 year run in the class.
Not that he shunned other boats; a member of The Storm Trysail Club since 1968, he was sought by many, racing offshore in the US, Mediterranean, or the UK on Charisma, Boomerang, and a fleet of other well-known sailboats. In 1974 Bobby navigated a big cigarette motorboat, owned by Dr. Robert Magoon, that set the Miami to New York speed record of 23 hours 41 minutes. Steve Lirakis comments that the record probably still stands as no one else would be crazy enough to challenge it.
Bob’s neighbor in Wakefield met Jory Hinman in a small social gathering and when she mentioned her sailing neighbor, Jory exclaimed, “Not THE Bob Connell!” No doubt, THE Bob Connell leaves us a grand legacy as a great sailor and one of the best shipmates one could have. -- Peter Rugg