Here is our Interview:
What was the most exciting race you have ever seen?
Two years ago I saw the 1998 Naitonal Team Racing Championships held in
Alamitos Bay. The wind was blowing 30-40 knots and the racing action was
furious as the two teams would battle at a time. The boats were flying
across the water. Except, of course, when they were capsizing. Fortunately;
I had a camera and was able to catch the following pictures.
Another very exciting race was between Nippon and America
True in the 2000 America's Cup.They went at each other so hard that they
had 9 penalties in 1 downwind leg.
Who do you think is the best Sailor ever?
For all around ability, I would have to say it is Chris Dickson because
he won the Match Racing Circuit so many times and he races every kind
of boat from Tornado Cats in the Olympics to Round the World 60 footers.
He also did a great job representing Nippon and New Zealand in the America's
Do you have any favorites for 2003?
It would be hard to pick against Chris. The only possible weakness he
might have is his personality conflicts within his own team. He will have
to get along with Paul Cayard, Bill Erkelens, and Larry Ellison. What
will become of Cayard? He will definately need buffers between him and
all of the team leaders.
Who are some of the Most Interesting Characters you have met along the
I would have to say Dennis Conner is very interesting with almost a split
personality. He can be very charming or he can be extremely unpleasant
to be around. Paul Elvstrom is an extremely interesting man with very
strong beliefs and thoughts. He is still racing and winning at 72 years
of age. He believes that you should try to avoid protests if at all possibly
because the infraction rarely affects the outcome of the race. Also you
may just make a friend of the sailor that you just waved by. He thinks
that a mark should be rounded like a ski slolom gate where it doesn't
matter if you touch a mark as long as you get around it. Elvstrom also
is proudest of his innovations rather than his Victories. He enjoys the
picture of himself being the first Helmsman out on a 505 trapeze far more
than any trophies. He also would rather talk about one of his many inventions
than a winward leg of some race.
What or who was your toughest interview?
That also was Paul Elvstrom. I was going to be in Northern Europe for
a regatta, so I thought I would interview him. I called and called. Finally
I convinced him that he was worth interviewing. "Why me?" he
asked. "I don't even race anymore." Once I met with him the
interview was wonderful.
What was your toughest regatta to cover?
The 1992 America's Cup in San Diego. With the spying, secrecy, and limited
access it was impossible to cover the story. The camps went so far that
they hired 24 hour guards and I think they had gun turrets mounted in
the towers. There was no humor or fun involved with that Cup, and there
was a great effort made by the camps to dicourage the media.
What was your best Regatta to cover?
Without a doubt it was the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. I covered the
story for the Times. Connie Smith ran the Press and the sailors were very
accessible. There was a friendly and fun attitude surrounding the venue.
Also, that was the year that Bill Buchan won the gold in the last race
and was in complete awe of the entire event. At the same time Carl Buchan
won the Gold in the Flying Dutchmans. There was a lot of excitement when
Silvestri went over early to cover and got thrown out. Russell Coutts
won the class beating the American John Bertrand.
Which is the best Yacht Club?
The Royal Yacht Squadron of Cowes. It is on the water in an impressive
castle. It is a very traditional and precise place. They have 16 or 17
brass cannons lining the boardwalk for starting races. There is a great
flagpole with all the flags run and bagged with lanyards. Ensigns in full
uniform stand at attention and ready to set a flag or fire the cannons.
I never even got in the clubhouse, but it is very impressive from the
My favorite is the St. Francis Yacht Club. While I was covering the Brut
Match Race Cup, I couldn't help but notice the ambiance and the contrast.
While guns are going off outside and yachts are being flung at each other,
the inside is nice and calm with three little old ladies playing cards.
It is a great place for watching regattas.
What was your best sailing experience?
In 1993, I won the all Catalina Regatta. It is an inverted start; so I
started first and stayed there. Usually the bigger boats would run me
down 3/4s of the way through the race and leave me far behind. This time
we had a good start and we just kept going until we finish 3 minutes ahead
of the next boat.
Who is the best Woman Sailor?
J.J. Isler. She has sailed extremely well in boats that range from dinghies
to large racing yachts whether she's racing against women or men.
Also I like Dawn Riley. She is the Billie Jean King of Sailing. She wants
no special favors because she is a woman. She can hold her own with the
best sailor's in the world. She was very unselfish when she relinquished
the helm and took over the pit on her America True campaign.
What was your longest journey to a regatta?
On a trip to Admirals Cup, we had a bomb scare and had to sit in the airport
for 5 hours while they towed the plane way out from the teminal. They
brought in dogs and a bomb unit and then finally sent a bus to pick us
up after they found out it was a hoax.
Who were your favorite Journalists?
Melvin Durslag wrote sports columns for the L.A. Examiner. He had a laidback
and bemused style to his writing. He expressed the funny side of sport
and showed that it is not about life and death.
Who are your favorite Commentators?
Al Michaels from ABC TV and Vin Scully from the Dodgers.
Who were your mentors?
Mrs. Roessler, my English Lit. Instructor from Harbor Jr. College was
my greatest influence. I was a fairly normal kid, but she saw something
in my writing. She asked me to stay after class one day and told me that
I was doing well, but I was not being fair to myself. I wasn't putting
out my best effort. It made me realize that I might have some potential
in writing and led me to pursue my eventual carrer.
Do you have any heroes?
Yes, Jackie Robinson. When I was a kid, I didn't ubnderstand what the
big deal was about a black guy playing in the league. He just seemed like
a great ball player to me. As I learned more about society, I realized
just how great an accomplishment that was. Fortunately for me; I was able
to interview him 9 months before he died.
End of Interview
Rich fell into the full time sailing photo-journalism. He
had been an active outdoor writer for the times covering
hunting, fishing, etc.for his last 6 years there.
In 1993, the newspaper offered an attractive retirement
package for his16 years of service. He took it and
was asked by Connie Smith to write a column for The
Log. He has had a column in every issue, except one
since 1994. He submitted it, but the Editors forgot
to put it in. You'll find Rich and his articles at
many of the regattas to come. If you get a chance
to meet him; you'll have met one of the true Gentlemen
of the sport.