Photo Courtesy Leslie Richter
© 2012 Latitude 38 Publishing, LLC
The following are remembrances about time well spent with former Latitude 38 Racing Editor Rob Moore, who died January 5, 2012, at the age of 58 after a two-year battle with lung cancer. It is a testament to his strong will and fighter’s spirit that he outlasted his dire prognosis by well over a year. Longtime readers will likely remember his insightful reporting on both local and international racing events during his 18 years with the magazine. It’s no exaggeration to say that Rob was the best racing reporter the Bay Area has ever seen.
From “Brother” John Gladstone:
Okay, where do I start? First and foremost, some people reading all this stuff about Rob, who did not know him as I and others writing in did, may not get how significant he truly was to those he touched. Someone else said it so well: He made each and every one of us feel more special than we ever felt about ourselves. “I am not worthy,” he would say. Guess what? If worthy means having spent time with you Rob, we are SO worthy!
The day and evening Rob passed, I saw him everywhere. Big bushy red hair and mustache. I could hear his voice.
Our first acquaintance was after many Big Boat Series races in the '90s, in the bar at St. Francis YC. Other racers (having obviously hoisted a few too many) came up and complimented me on “that nice piece” or just saying “Hi, Rob.” I was wondering who they could possibly be confusing me with. Then finally, the day we met, he told me of the exact same experience from his side. We were brothers from that day forward.
The miles we spent sailing — to Puerto Vallarta (twice), to Bermuda on Chippewa, and in other races — are some of my most cherished. There are, however, several onshore experiences with Rob that I will never forget.
One was getting to see where he grew up, staying a night with him at his mom’s in Connecticut. Most know him from West Coast ties. Having also begun my life an East Coaster, we shared an understanding of how fortunate we both were to be where we were in our lives. His mom was really cool and he obviously was a terrific son. We would joke we were “brothers from a different mother.”
Another was a time we were both participating in the BVI Regatta. He was a guest trimmer on Pyewacket and I was sailing on Storm, a RP 44. On a lay day he asked me if I had any plans and if I wanted to come to the Bitter End as his guest. What a glorious day that was! He introduced me to everyone as though I was some celebrity. That’s just how he was.
As some know, Rob graduated from Brown University and was a really hard-working, smart guy. He had many choices in life to do whatever he wanted. He chose that path with his heart. His fortune was all of us. How grateful I am to have been in his life.
Boy, he’ll be missed.
From Dave Gendell, co-Founder of Spinsheet Magazine
Rob and I were both rogue free newsprint rag writers on the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the year judges' panel for a number of years; starting in the mid-'90s and running through the mid-2000s.
In the early years of that service, we had never met in person, but I knew him by reputation and through the occasional battered and fetishized copies of Latitude 38 that made their way east back in those days. I completely respected his work and his offbeat vibe (To wit: He once published a race story featuring a headline lifted from an obscure lyric from The Doors: “Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine”.)
Rob quickly pegged me as a kindred spirit and we started holding “pre-calls” to discuss the annual Rolex award conference call a day or so before the big call and then, even more entertaining, “after-calls” to dissect the discussion seconds after it wrapped up. I was young and I loved Latitude 38. It was Rob I wanted to connect with more than any celebrity editor from Newport or any “full access” mainstream media guy. I was very pleased that we connected in this unique way.
My wife and I had the pleasure of hosting Rob at our home around 2003, his first visit to Annapolis in many years. We were keen to show our out-of-town friend Annapolis at its finest, but it turned out to be a gray couple of days and the breeze was light. Annapolis was not really in “showcase” mode.
We went for a drifting sail on the Pride of Baltimore II, saw the Wednesday night races from the decks of the schooner, and then walked the docks chatting up the sailors as the evening’s racing wound down. Rob’s enthusiasm was incredible. He was so positive about our community, even as I was apologizing for the sad state of the conditions.
He was genuinely humbled and even surprised when the Annapolis sailors recognized his name. “That’s so sweet of you to say that,” he answered over and over as the compliments about Latitude 38 and his work flowed. “That’s so sweet of you...”
Rob was a one-off. Reviewing the parts that went into this One Of A Kind, it seems improbable that the cold waters of Long Island Sound, the Ivy League, 1970s California, the blossoming San Francisco big boat scene, and a free newsprint magazine would conspire to bring this talent and this energy into the outside world. Actually, “improbable” is not the right word. “Magical” is probably the right one.
From Dana Paxton of Media Pro International:
I met Rob Moore in person well after I had corresponded with him for a number of years. As Latitude 38’s racing editor, he was my primary press target in the Bay Area when I came onboard as Rolex’s press officer for Rolex Big Boat Series in 2000.
While I was well aware of the scope of Latitude 38, it wasn’t until I met Rob a year or so into the job and watched him work the dock among thousands of sailors that I truly understood how much he knew about racing on the West Coast (and beyond). He quickly became my go-to guy for trivia, history or the inside scoop that might help me do a better job for the St. Francis YC and the regatta. All I had to do is call or write and name a sailor, race or boat class, and the encyclopedia in Rob’s head would open.
It was clear he was a special person who actually cared about his work, the people he wrote about and the sport of sailing. He had a disarming wit and gentle manner I admired. With Rob it was as much about what he knew and didn’t say.
When Leslie came into his life, it was clear the wait had been worth it for both. With Rob on the water racing, Leslie was a smiling friend in the media center almost daily. I truly enjoyed working with them both. I hesitate to say “work” as my job never feels 100% like work. I’ve been blessed with a job that takes me around the world and introduces me to new people. Rob is one I will never forget. Fair winds my friend.
From Pip & Judy Wick:
Rob raced the Newport-Bermuda on my watch in 1976 and returned with both of us on Sonny. He was a bit woollier in those days with a long full red beard, and a pixie sense of humor.
The other watch was somewhat staid, and took a light weather passage with more solemnity than our watch felt was needed. Since the wind was so light, Rob decided we needed more tell tales. So, he proceeded to drape the rigging up to the second spreaders with toilet paper, the lightest material available. The other watch captain wanted me to take it down, but since I wasn’t the climber Rob was, I refused. (I figured the half-life of toilet paper was short enough that it would be gone before we reached Bermuda.)
We were each given a flashlight at the start of the race, and Rob taped his to the leeward shrouds to put light on the genoa’s tell tales. It worked fine for quite a while, but there were no spare batteries, so he had to borrow other’s lights.
On the return trip we equipped the boat with a huge fishhook to nail a shark. Judy contributed a chicken carcass and we towed it astern on what line we had, but it was too close to the boat, and jumped from wave top to wave top. I mentioned this then went below to navigate, when I asked on deck how far out the bait was the answer was “I dunno. How long is the mainsheet anyway?”
We loved Rob and were very sorry to hear of his passing. He will be missed on both coasts.
From Philip Lotz:
Rob sailed with us on my Swan 42 Arethusa out of Newport, Rhode Island, for several seasons just before he got cancer. He helped us win the Nationals and qualify for the NYYC Invitational in the summer of 2009.
Although I got to know him for only a short time, it is easy to see why there is such an overwhelming outpouring of tributes to Rob. All the statements in Scuttlebutt and elsewhere are true — he was great to sail with and a treasure of a person on and off the boat. I don’t think I can add much more to what has already been said. He made a huge impact on our team and will be remembered and missed by all of us on Arethusa.
From Kirk Denebeim:
I was, and still am, very saddened to learn of Rob’s passing. I can’t believe that in the space of less than a year, two people who strongly influenced me in my early years as a sailor and a racer, have died. First, Jim Leech; now, Rob Moore.
Having re-entered the Bay racing scene in 2011 after a 20+ year hiatus, I had the pleasure of chatting with Rob at a regatta last July, and catching up a bit. He vaguely informed me that he was battling some health problems, but honestly, I did not appreciate that it was as serious as lung cancer. His spirits, demeanor, smile, the bottomless wit – and those twinkling blue eyes – gave no hint that it would be our final conversation.
It was in the late '70s or early '80s, I believe, during my senior year at Cal. I was an ultra-enthusiastic, up-and-coming sailor who had been seriously bitten by the race bug. It’s all I wanted to do. Back then, the Midget Offshore Racing Association (MORA) was operating at its peak, and I had gone out on a long day race in the Gulf of the Farallones, the Jim Ong Triangle. I was aboard a Yankee 30 as a substitute crew member. It was an uncomfortable, windy and long day, but it got me completely hooked on ocean sailing.
One of the MORA boats in the fleet was Summertime Dream, a really cool Carl Schumacher-designed quarter-toner. I learned the owner – “a guy named Rob” – was looking for crew to do the next MORA race, a two-night ordeal over Memorial Day weekend. I introduced myself to Rob, and we hit it off instantly. (That is not an unusual or unique claim; I am sure Rob hit it off with every single person he ever met.)
In that race — called, I believe, the Corlett Race — the fleet sailed from the Golden Gate YC up to Drake’s Bay, spending the night at anchor. The following morning, starting from Drake’s Bay, the fleet headed to the SE Farallones, leaving them to port, then finishing in Half Moon Bay to spend the second night. The third morning, the fleet returned north, rounding the Lightship to starboard, then to the finish line at the GGYC.
It was a fantastic time from start to finish, and Rob was an outstanding skipper, shipmate and host. It was during this trip that Rob introduced me to, and then inducted me, into the Brown Trout Yacht Club (BTYC).
As we tacked our way up to Drake’s Bay that first day, Rob stated that all who sailed distance races aboard Summertime Dream, by necessity, had to become members of the BTYC. He used the analogy of crossing the equator: All sailors who pass over the equator for the first time must stand before Neptune to be judged, and to answer for their many earthly transgressions. Rob was quite vague regarding the BTYC induction process, and not wanting to sound too naive, I did not press my inquiries.
The next morning, after an enjoyable, laughter-filled night at anchor, and following a nice cup of hot coffee, it occurred to me that Summertime Dream was not equipped with a head! At that point, I immediately understood why the large plastic bucket, with a sail tie painter attached to it, was labeled “BTYC Membership Kit”
I realize this recollection has suddenly turned a bit, well, gross. But honestly, who but Rob Moore could have concocted this? I reminded Rob of this when we spoke last July, and we both shared a great chuckle over this recollection.
While Jim Leech and Rob are gone — both well before their time — their memories will always be a blessing. May God grant them both fair winds and following seas during their heavenly passages, and give perpetual comfort and strength to their loved ones and friends who remain ashore.
From Lucie Mewes:
God love him. I got my second Beer Can tiara (for completing a beer can race every night of the week, within a single week) because of Rob’s goading. Even over the telephone, I could see his eyes twinkle as he dared me.
I earned my first tiara in ‘98, in what may have been the first year of the challenge. I was about to celebrate my semi-centennial and, to have something better than a divorce to show for it, I went sailing. I spent three weeks sailing the Cal 39 Siren back from the Pacific Cup, and that’s when I decided to accept the challenge. My week ended with the two-day Second Half Opener.
Rob made a huge deal of it, took a great picture for Sightings and awarded me my first Latitude t-shirt, in lilac. I was thrilled, and lots of people noticed and said hello because of that story.
Come spring the next year, once the beer can calendar was out, I looked for a week that was a ‘challenge’ week. It had to have both South Beach (Monday) and Sausalito (Tuesday) races in the same week. There was only one week all season. I called Rob, in case he hadn’t noticed. First thing he asked: “So’re yah gonna doo it?” I didn’t think so, but I did, thanks to Rob!
He got me to say “yes” to the challenge…which got me to do a lot more sailing and meet so many new folks.
From Bruce Powell:
I will always remember doing the Pro-Am regatta at the Bitter End YC a few years ago. Another victim of cancer, my best friend Gary Clifford and I shared a two room “cabin” on the hill over the Sound with Rob. We had a great week of sailing and fun together. I will always remember them both.
From Pat Broderick:
I first met Rob at the Sausalito Cruising Club when I was running and sailing races down there. He was young with wild red hair and a strong voice at the bar. And he was one hell of a sailor. He’d offer helpful suggestions for managing races better — and I even listened to some of them.
Later when I moved down to the Sausalito Yacht Club to run races, Rob continued to be helpful and I listened more. He truly helped me accomplish what I did with the SYC program and then move into broader areas of race management.
By that time he was racing editor and eager for race results and summaries. This was in pre-Internet days, so one night’s results had better be in the mail the next day or there was going to be a phone call. A short write-up was even better; saved another phone call. Rob was also encouraging, offering a spot in his section for a race announcement so an event that promised a handful of entries could garner many more. Promoting local racing was his thing and he did it well.
After Rob moved to the Corinthian Yacht Club, he became an enthusiastic promoter of their Friday night and midwinter races. By that time, I was sailing my Santana 22, and Rob never failed to call and ask if I’d put out the word to the Tuna fleet. The same happened when I moved to my Wyliecat. When I became SSS commodore, ODCA president, and then YRA chairman, his inevitable call expanded to include the hundreds of YRA boats around the Bay Area.
Most of all, however, was the special relationship I had with Rob. We were never close sailing buddies, but if I ever had a question or needed some assistance concerning racing, Rob would pick up the phone or answer the email and things would begin to happen. Whenever we met, usually following a race, his warm greeting would spark up even a dismal DFL in that day’s race. The Bay racing community is richer for his time with us. I will truly miss Rob in so many ways.
From Michael Sheats:
I remember a Silver Eagle race in the early '90s. I was racing my Thunderbird, Ouzel, and Rob was on his Summertime Dream. That year the race favored the smaller boats and just at dusk we crossed tacks near Red Rock on the way back from Carquinez Strait. We kept racing into the dark and we heard Rob check in with the race committee shortly before we finished.
The next morning he was on the phone as the racing editor, congratulating us on our overall victory. He was interested in our winning strategy and it was a pleasure to discuss the race with him. Later we learned that the second place boat was Summertime Dream, 22 seconds behind.
What a great guy. He was only interested in the pleasure of the racing day and the experience we had shared.
From Mark Joiner:
I’m so sorry to hear of Rob’s passing. I didn’t know him well but always enjoyed his articles, which is saying a lot for a long-confirmed non-racer such as myself. May he find fair winds.
From Marylouise Higgins:
First I'm very saddened by the news. Rob was a great supporter of me when I was running the Estuary Midwinter Series at Alameda Yacht Club years ago. He was always after me for a blurb as to what happened on Race Sunday.
I was also involved with the Columbia 5.5 fleet and ran their Nationals for several years. Rob was generous enough to give the fleet a center spread in Latitude 38 with wonderful pictures during one of their Nationals on the Bay.
What a great guy and supporter of the sailing community.
From Capt. Robert Strang:
Rob was the consummate sailor and fellow crewmember, from my experiences with him in Puerto Vallarta to our beloved Balboa YC and the Bay Area. If Rob wrote it, then it was the bottom line! His memory will be with all of us forever.
From Jim Bateman:
Rob and I once sailed Urban Guerrilla out to the first approach buoy out the Gate, just to ride the swells back in.
Since UG was named after Patty Hearst, we sometimes entered the boat under the SLN — Symbionese Liberation Navy. An explanation is probably in order for his use of SLN, as well as the Down Town Yacht Club, the Brown Trout Yacht Club, Spooge and Spooge 3 syndicates when he raced. These were all used in fun, but really because Rob never liked to publish his own name as the winner in Latitude.
When Peter — the second guy who Rob sold Summertime Dream to — bought the boat from Rob, he promptly dropped it off the crane at Schoonmaker’s, punched a hole in the side and broke the rudder. Peter fixed it, Carl Schumacher got him an Olson 29 rudder for a replacement, and Peter re-named the boat WAR II after his father’s newer quarter-tonner back in Brazil, WAR.
Peter had changed the name because when he went back home to Rio and hung a picture of Summertime Dream at his father’s YC, everyone laughed. Apparently Summertime Dream is the name of a popular feminine hygiene product. Rob changed the name back to Summertime Dream when he got the boat back.
Peter dumped a huge amount of money into the boat including several sets of sails. We had one of the first North 3DL sails and a couple of sets of UK Tapedrive sails. Peter had wealthy parents. His Swiss mother’s maiden name was Nestle and his father was president of Union Carbide Brazil. Nevertheless, in the second exchange on Summertime Dream, Rob cut a deal with Seabird Sailing Center over in the Berkeley lagoon to give Peter a brand-new Hobie 16.
From Pete Caras:
Tracy and I had some fun time with Rob over the years.
One time (BT, before Tracy), we were racing against Rob's E Ticket in the Olson 25 nationals aboard Bill Riley’s Pearl. One of the crew’s wives, dressed us all up like clowns (red wigs, etc.) so as to keep to our mellow theme of “just clowning around.” Since we were Rob’s arch rivals in the Olson 25 fleet, he was convinced we were all dressed like him to freak him out! That year we beat E Ticket in the Nationals as well as the season, but it was a squeaker.
Another time, Rob came by our boat Foxen to try to entice Tracy and me to do a Corinthian Friday night race with him aboard Richard Spindler’s Olson 30. Tracy wasn’t into it because she felt Rob was too intense when racing and told him so. Rob held up two six-packs and promised it would be a fun, relaxed evening, so Tracy said, "Let’s do it."
All was well until the starting gun went off and Rob had us working our asses off like it was the America’s Cup! We did win our division that night and Rob was so stoked, he sprung for dinner.
Another time I helped Rob and Mitch take one of Richard's 'bargain' boats from Sausalito to Santa Barbara. That's a story in itself, but the point is he said "I owe you, man," so the following tale is when I cashed in the IOU.
I got hired to skipper a 1936 wooden 40-ft ketch to Mexico and to stay with the boat for a year and take the owner's friends and business associates on adventures. It was Thanksgiving Day, 1992, and I ran into Rob and asked him if he wanted to go for a sail with me and the owner. We left the Sausalito Yacht Club, went out the Gate and turned left.
After an hour or so, Rob asked what the plan was and I said we're heading for San Diego. He thought about it for a minute and said, "Let's do it." His only concern was the wooden boat. I assured him it was a together vessel, so he relaxed. The autopilot took a shit an hour later but we kept going, hand steering 3 on, 6 off. I cooked up a storm all the way and even though there wasn't a cat's paw of wind, we were having a ball.
After rounding Conception, we were treated to the best dolphin show we had ever seen for hours in the Santa Barbara Channel. Rob took a ton of pics and they were featured in a Latitude 38 centerfold in the next issue. Right after passing Avalon, we got breeze and sailed the rest of the way to Point Loma on a glorious close reach in flat water. About 100 feet from the Police Docks, we ran out of fuel and coasted the rest of the way to the dock. Rob called a cab and was on his way to the airport within 15 minutes, IOU paid in full!
From former Latitude Managing Editor John Riise:
There are so many great stories, but there are two I’ll share here.
The Heidi story:
Rob did the Bitter End YC Pro-Am Regatta one year with Paul Cayard and John Kostecki. This event paired rock star sailors and press people on basically stock charter boats racing around a course in the Bitter End’s Caribbean resort. Racing-wise, in the big picture, it wasn’t even on the radar. But it was all good fun nonetheless.
When the event had been whittled down to the final two boats, the sponsors put super models aboard for the last race. Rob’s boat got Heidi Klum. I can’t be sure all women know who she is, but I can guarantee you that all men know. And back then, she was at the top of her Sports Illustrated bikini issue powers. When he returned to the office I asked what that she was like.
“Well,” he said, “she arrived on race day with this whole entourage of people walking her down the dock. As introductions were being made, her manager pulled us aside and said, ‘Put her somewhere where she won’t get hurt. And if you bruise her, we’ll kill you.’”
So they put her at the back of the boat out of harm’s way, and went on to win the regatta.
Who cares about the regatta? What was she like?
Rob kind of chuckled. “When the cameras are on her, she’s Heidi. When they’re not, she chain smokes and talks nonstop. She literally never shuts up. And she’s German or something, so you can’t understand hardly anything she says.”
This did nothing to tarnish our image of her. Or, apparently, Rob’s. A photo he had taken of her that day hung above his desk for years.
Getting Cold Feet:
Rob and I went out on Latitude’s photo boat to photograph some racing event in January or February one year. It was bitterly cold that day. In fact, as I remember, that whole winter was one of the coldest on record for Northern California. At a local marine engine shop, I remember seeing a whole row of 10-12 engines sitting on the ground outside, all ruined because of cracked blocks when the cooling water froze.
Anyway, it was really, really cold. We cast off and motored out to the event, it started, and I began taking photos from the flying bridge, our usual vantage point. After a while, it occurred to me that Rob wasn’t up there with me. I glanced down on deck and there he was. The engine hatches were open, Rob’s shoes were off and he had his bare feet resting on the running engines, alternately massaging and actually beating on them.
“What in the world are you doing?” I asked.
“Frostbite,” he grunted through gritted teeth.
Turns out as a teenager, Rob had worked in an ice factory in Connecticut. These places made ice for the fishing industry — the lobster boats, crab boats and even swordfish boats. (In the movie “The Perfect Storm”, you may remember that they made their own ice. This was long before that.) He said that everybody who worked there, even in the summer and even if you wore thick socks and boots — got frostbite. It wasn’t a severe case, but he said when his feet got really cold, they hurt really bad.
So he spent most of the day useless as a photo-buddy. But thanks to the engines, at least his feet didn’t hurt so bad.
From Latitude Managing Editor Andy Turpin:
Even though we’d all known Rob’s dire prognosis for many months, it’s hard to accept that ‘the Viking’, as we used to call him, is really gone. But as I think back on the decade I spent with Rob and John (JR) Riise toiling away in Latitude’s so-called editorial dungeon, I can’t help but crack a smile. Despite frequent seven-day work weeks and long days that extended into the wee hours, we actually had a lot of fun. Back at the height of the dot com bubble when the magazine grew to more than 300 pages we were sometimes so punch-drunk from sleep deprivation that we’d laugh till we cried about one thing or another.
In addition to the classic Rob stories relayed here by JR and others, I think back fondly about the many Rob-isms we heard on a daily basis. One of his favorite expressions — which he lived by — was “Never do a shitty job well,” the implication being that if you did, you’d get stuck doing it again and again. One time he came home from an offshore race with an anecdote about how the expression “Light the barbecue!” had been adopted by the crew to acknowledge a high point in the competition. It was definitely a you-had-to-be-there sort of thing, and we didn’t really get it. But before we knew it we found ourselves yelling, “Light the barbecue!” too, whenever something exciting happened in the office.
When Rob felt the need for absolute silence so he could concentrate on his writing, he’d announce in a firm voice, “Full cone!” which was shorthand for “cone of silence,” a reference to the glass bubble within which the bumbling TV spy Maxwell Smart and his Chief used to discuss top secret matters. And when Rob could tell I was on a phone call that I was trying to break free of, or I had visitor at my desk that I couldn’t seem to get rid of without being impolite, he’d secretly call my extension and pretend it was urgent business.
We’d sometimes pop a few beers during deadline nights back then. And because Rob had a sound system in his corner of the office, when he reached a certain level of inspiration he’d always put on Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at volume 9.5, regardless of whether JR and I were trying to concentrate or not. But hey, it was a tradition so we rarely complained.
If he had three beers in an evening, it was a safe bet that he’d get onto his favorite rant: how the Latitude ad guys made more money than the editors. “Man, doesn’t it just piss you off…,” he’d say, as if we’d never heard it before. JR and I would roll our eyes as if to say, “Here we go again,” knowing full well there was no point in trying to change the subject until he’d completed his soliloquy: “I mean really, those guys are just order takers. All those ads just come in over the transom; there’s nothin’ to it.”
Rob was a voracious reader and lover of language, and sometimes a particular word would dazzle him to the point that he couldn’t stop saying it. "Flummoxed" was a good example. Once he discovered it, he couldn’t stop saying it at every possible opportunity. “I’m flummoxed by this page layout.” “This camera has got me all flummoxed.” “I’m completely flummoxed by the fact that my car keeps overheating every day when I drive to work.” (The answer to that latter befuddlement was because, unbeknownst to him, he’d been driving around for weeks without a fan belt.)
But the one word Rob’s former Latitude workmates will always associate with him is “spooge,” which he actually may have invented. It’s one of those universal words that has an endless depth of uses. It can be a verb: “Spooge out a few inches on the boat show, will ya?” A noun: “What’s that spooge all over your shirt?” Or a modifier: “That’s a pretty spoogy intro you came up with for that interview.”
Wherever Rob’s spirit resides now, I’m sure he’s still coming up with witty one-liners to amuse the souls around him. So spooge on old buddy. This world is a much sadder place without you.
From former Latitude Racing Editor Sutter Schumacher:
“Rob stories” were legendary in our house when I was growing up, many of them brought home by my dad after countless hours on late-night watches with Rob over the years. I recall one — unverified all these years later — where somebody recorded Rob’s off-watch snoring over one of his most cherished possessions at the time, a Bruce Springsteen tape. When he pushed ‘play’ on his Walkman on the next off-watch, it’s safe to say Rob was not amused.
Rob, directly or indirectly, was around for many firsts in my life. I distinctly remember meeting him when I was 4 or so and he was picking up various boat parts for his acquisition of Summertime Dream from my dad. And the first Bay race I remember doing — a miserable rainy light-wind winter affair — was on Summertime Dream shortly thereafter with him and my dad.
Rob also got me my first paid writing gig, a Sightings contribution for Latitude 38, in the mid-'90s. I think I earned about $4.13 after taxes, and try as Rob did to discourage me from the pauper-inducing profession, I still caught a glimmer of glamour and continued on with my journalism degree.
Ten years later, I found myself trying to fill his shoes at Latitude’s race desk. Before I’d typed the first word for my first Racing Sheet story, I knew it was a futile effort. I’d never equal his wit and style or his sailing skill, let alone the way he could make the most boring race sound, well, fascinating. Long-distance love pulled me away from my own race editor career shortly thereafter, but I never lost the feeling of being a kid wearing dad’s sea boots. Still, I will be forever grateful for the experience and friendships I gained from the reputation he built for Latitude’s race coverage in his 18 years on the post.
(I also credit Rob for my lust of office supplies. In Rob’s corporate days, pre-Latitude, he arrived for a Christmas gift exchange party at my parents’ house with an unwrapped cardboard box of items ransacked from his employer’s stationery shelves — even then he was a thrifty guy. I may have been only 4 or 5, but I had my eyes fixed on that box of paper clips, pens, and note paper before the gift-swapping began. For years I thought it was the best Christmas gift ever.)
But I am most grateful for the undue generosity and kindness he showed my family after my dad passed away 10 years ago. Rob was still at Latitude then, and he gave us space in the days after the unexpected passing so that we could pull ourselves together. He also helped match the boat designs with their race pedigrees when we were asked for information, and compiled posthumous anecdotes about Carl from friends near and far that I cherish to this day.
I regret that I never shared any of this with Rob. Although I now live on the far side of the world, and Rob and Leslie worked hard to keep their lives private, I heard on occasion about his battle. But like many, I was sure he’d be back to his old ways soon and didn’t want to bother them. Regrets are a waste — you can’t change the past — but they do teach us not to repeat mistakes. So I vow now to tell friends how much they mean to me, and to share the memories I have with them. I also appreciate every breath. After I was told of his passing, I read the blog that Rob and Leslie wrote about their highs and lows over the last two years. He wrote in a couple of posts that that day was a great day to be alive, and I’m certain he meant it.
The only other consolation I have is a mental image of some of Rob’s friends who preceded him at this mark rounding on life’s race course — the likes of Shimon Van Collie, Mark Rudiger, Roy Disney, and even Carl, if he can be included in that luminous group — welcoming him with open arms. Sail on, my friend!
From former Latitude 38 Advertising Rep Mitch Perkins:
Richard Spindler recruited Rob, and Rob recruited me, to sail the Absquatchalato from Loreto, Mexico, to La Paz. We flew into Loreto and found our way by cab to the half-completed rebar-strewn marina. The Cal 25 was easy to spot looking very unfit and bobbing sadly on a mooring ball. Rob was incredulous that we were going offshore in this half-trashed dangercraft.
I was oblivious. It looked like a lot of work but I was ignorantly game as this was my first offshore sail on any boat. I think my enthusiasm trumped his skepticism. We were a good match in that way. Rob’s practical knowledge matched my we-can-do-it stupidity.
We proceeded to get The Squatch seaworthy, put up the mast, put on the sails and did a general clean-up. Then we went to town and soaked up the Loreto culture and way too many margaritas. I was reckless in my cultural embrace and happier and drunker than I’ve ever been. Rob was tolerating my exuberance by having a few 'Ritas of his own. We were both excited to be in Mexico and looking forward to our adventure.
Our mission which we had so enthusiastically accepted was to sail the Absquatchalato (Spanish for ‘unseaworthy’) from Loreto to La Paz so that the Grand Poobah would have a boat to sail in the Baja Cruisers Rally. The Rally was a precursor to the Baja Ha-Ha.
I woke up on departure day embracing a tremendously endowed hangover. Rob was faring better. We went to the marina and proceeded to launch the boat. We shoved off and headed south through spectacular desert scenery on the beautifully blue Sea of Cortez. The only “chart” we had was a AAA road map. Rob was laughing and cursing at our crude navigational chart and instruments and I thought it was normal. He gave me a crash course in plotting and I was mesmerized by our surroundings. While Rob set what he wouldn’t refer to as sails, I took the helm.
We were both in awe of the scenery and the first thing we saw was a horizon-to-horizon school of dolphins. They were far in the distance and then they headed our way. It was incredible, and apparently they thought we were, too, as they all swam up to look at us. Thousands of them had to see who these fools were.
Next we were followed by a flying, flopping ray. It was amazing. Rob was tearing pages out of an issue of Latitude and throwing them off the transom. The ray would jump out of the water, do a flip and flop back in. He followed us through Sightings, The Racing Sheet and Classies. This farm boy had never seen anything like it and Rob was highly amused.
We set up a watch system that quickly went off schedule when I proceeded to get seasick and went below. Rob would call out every so often and say, “Perkins, you have to see this.” I would pop my head up out of the companionway and survey the surrounds or the sea life, make an exclamation and disappear below decks.
The next morning, after Rob had done a double shift, I was feeling better. I wrapped up in a blanket and took the helm while Rob handed me a cup of coffee and went below to get some rest. In the watch switch we were between a big island and mainland Baja. The sun was rising and the full moon was setting. It was like we were sailing down The Grand Canyon, and we both expressed the same thought. It was a magical, memorable moment. Rob went below and slept.
The rest of the trip was a Boy Scout adventure: eating out of cans, learning knot-tying and earning a sailing merit badge. Rob was a patient and helpful scout master. He was patient and funny and tolerant. I can still see that AAA map in my mind. I wish I had kept it. We laughed and told each other stories and shared a great Huck and Tom adventure.
We made it to La Paz without incident because Rob knew what he was doing. Rob was smart and practical with a great sense of the absurd. We delivered the Absquatchalato in as ship-shape condition as we could. It went on to serve the Poobah in the Cruisers Rally. Rob and I jumped ship and went along with Tim and Karen Stapleton on their Islander 36. I wonder where The Squatch is today.
Here’s to Rob. One of the greatest people I have ever known.
From former Latitude Advertising Rep Tim Stapleton:
I remember the Sea of Cortez Race Week we did on my Islander 36 Misfit when Karen and I were cruising in 1988. I’m trying to recall everyone who was aboard for the race from La Paz to Isla Partida: Rob, me, Karen, Jeff Gething. Was Charlie with us? Probably someone else I’ve completely forgotten.
We had provisioned for the week at the island with about eight cases of beer. They were all stacked up on the cabin top, under the boom. It was a glorious day, temps in the mid-80s, but with light and fickle winds.
We had a decent start, but were definitely one of the smaller boats in our fleet. The big boat was Kialoa II, the 72-ft ketch war horse. We spent several hours playing the shifts, and after each jibe, we’d all have a beer.
Many jibes latter we were starting to get a little silly (actually, downright sloshed). We decided to start listening to the VHF and overheard the race committee chairman, who was sailing on Kialoa II, decide to change the finish location. We were inside of them, and jibed immediately for the new finish line. Kialoa took a while to jibe and ran out of track before we crossed the line before them. We were first boat to finish! We had beat a boat twice our length, boat for boat, and drunk all of the beer!
We somehow managed to get our hook down at Isla Partida and all passed out for the night. At 3:00 a.m. Richard Spindler crashed into us on some piece of shit boat he’d bought for nothing.
We raced the rest of the races as “Six Captains and a Queen”. My cruising friend Bob Oscequeda, Bill Reilly, some friend of Bill’s (they had ditched a Hans Christian 38 for our speedy Islander 36), Jeff, Karen, Rob, Mitch, and I. What an awesome time. And we got the first-place trophy! I will never forget that week.
From Corinthian YC Rear Commodore Eric Artman:
One year, standing at the Corinthian YC bar, I mentioned to Rob that I was getting ready for the annual CYC trip to the Delta. Rob said that the Delta offered a great opportunity to get away from everything and everyone and enjoy the solitude. I said, no, that I was going particularly to enjoy the group camaraderie and togetherness of the trip, and that's also why I got back into boating after moving to the West Coast. He replied, "No, Eric, that's what boating is all about: sail or power; by yourself or as a large group; there are so many ways to enjoy time on the water that our pastime can accommodate virtually everyone."
It's that spirit of sharing our pastime with as many people as possible that I remember about Rob.
From Steve Rienhart:
It is a great tragedy that we now must “remember” Rob, as he is truly unforgettable and I can never recall seeing him in anything other than a positive, upbeat, charming, and always witty mood. Often the gentle mentor; always with a quick, wry wit; and ever the consummate gentleman. And of course his incredible ability with the word.
In the Summer of 1995 we managed to finally win our YRA Class, which of course meant the true pinnacle of sailing fame and glory on SF Bay: a mention in Latitude 38 by Rob Moore! In October the awards ceremony is held, and my then new girlfriend (now wife) “reluctantly” accompanied me to the dinner. Her concern was that somehow she was going to offend the regular crew, having only sailed with us as foredeck on the last race day of the season. Never mind that all of the regular crew received my invitation to attend and declined it. As we walked into the Corinthian YC, there was Rob, waiting to catch all of us “champions” for his annual article on the YRA season. “Hey Steve, how are you!” was his immediate greeting, followed by a gentle nudge of Laraine and me towards a wall to grab a picture of us for the article. As the camera went up, Laraine shot across the hallway, politely saying something along the lines of, "bad enough I’m here, definitely don’t want to offend the regulars by being in the picture." Rob took it in his usual stride, and with a little grin set the camera down, picked up his ever-present note pad, and started asking me the usual questions about the season. When I listed the crew, Laraine mentioned last, he turned back to her and said, “Oh, yeah, I was out on the photo boat that day and saw you on the foredeck. You worked hard both races, you EARNED this photo.” And with that gentle cajoling, he managed to get a picture of us. One that we both feel is one of the nicest pictures ever taken of us, bar none!
Many stories later, the summer of 2003 I received a note from Rob asking if I wanted to crew with him in the upcoming Big Boat Series. "Well, perhaps, I’ll ponder it." Which led to some further emails outlining what a nice campaign it is, great folks, etc. Within an hour of Rob’s first email, I received another email invitation to crew in that BBS, this time from a colleague of Laraine’s who had first asked her. She suggested that it would be more interesting to me, so in comes the rather formal note requesting a CV, some references, etc., and I said that I would think about it, all the while smiling about the formalities of those Northern Europeans (he is from Denmark). The next day I said yes to Rob and in his response was a clue that was also in the next email from my wife’s colleague, and I asked him if Rob was sailing with him. He responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” and I then informed him that so was I. He said anyone Rob approves of is great with him, and I then suggested he re-count the crew already signed up to make sure I hadn’t been counted twice.
It was an outstanding BBS, great weather, great boat, great crew, great owner, and BIG fun. The entire time sailing, Rob in the middle, me on the mast, I could always hear his gentle coaching and encouragement: “Hike a little harder, guys,” “Stay sharp,” “stay cool,” never with a raised voice or negative tone. Again, always the consummate gentleman. Shortly after the first practice, and largely based on my desire to not do any more of the boat’s namesake tequila shots, I volunteered to bring my portable blender along for après-sail margaritas. Rob was initially concerned about the weight of such a device, and I assured him that the weight was truly negligible. Besides, there was an awful lot of beautiful wood furniture down below to worry about one little blender… When Rob first saw the blender, he was rather shocked by how light and powerful it was. He asked me what specialty store I bought it in, to which I responded, “It’s Black and Decker, so Sears, I guess…” We won our class by Saturday afternoon.
One of Rob’s great skills was that of encouragement combined with an innate ability to calmly diffuse and refocus a situation, which came into play during Sunday’s Bay Tour finale race. For whatever reason, and I will never know why the front of the boat felt a need to change spinnakers during a jibe, nor will I ever know how this process escaped the notice of the back of the boat, but there it was – a peel change as we jibed around Fort Mason – a rather nice peel change at that, I might add. The front of the boat quite pleased about the situation, while simultaneously the back of the boat started howling about it. There I am, standing at the mast, trying to catch my breath and wondering how this all happened, and I hear Rob’s voice as the peace envoy from his pit position calmly remind everyone that, "It’s all fine, keep sailing, forget about it." After which he had a moment of encouragement for the front of the boat, kindly asking us to never do something like that again, please. It was a great campaign, big fun, and like all regattas, after a very quick beer Rob was off – camera around his neck, notepad in hand, another work-day just beginning.
I don’t know about the rest of the sailing world, or perhaps I’m just a little self-critical, but in most photos of my boats I’ve always noticed what was “wrong” at the moment – the string over the side, wondering which of my gifted sailors while checking the wake released the swim ladder to drag behind the boat the rest of the leg, the crew member adjusting his hat, or eating, or… Well, you probably know what I’m referring to. Imagine my pleasant surprise to receive a picture from Rob a few days after the 2005 Ditch Run, taken from Yucca, fairly early on in the race – there we were, totally focused, everyone working, the sails drawing, it was… the perfect picture! So of course I forwarded it to Laraine immediately.
Her response: “it wasn’t very windy."
Well, that’s an odd response… “No, this was San Pablo Bay; it didn’t get windy until Suisun Bay and Antioch.”
“Then who thought it necessary to wrap the spin sheet four times around a winch and stick a handle in the top?” DOH! Foiled again. Or perhaps not…
Later that same summer, we sailed in the NOOD Regatta which doubled as our class championship. At the end of the last race, we were tied with another boat, and we thought we had lost the tie-breaker. That just added to the foggy, cloudy gray day as we sailed the longest twenty minutes I can recall in my life back to the StFYC docks.
Once we'd docked, I walked over to the other boat and started to congratulate them. Their response was, “What are you talking about?” and simultaneously I heard Rob Moore’s voice congratulating us on our win as he walked down the gangway, camera around his neck, ever-present notepad in hand. It was at that moment that two things happened: The fog and clouds cleared back to the bridge, allowing the sun to shine on all of us and the temperature to rise ten degrees, and we realized that our Junior High math teacher tactician was “challenged” by tabular data: apparently he only counted two, not all three, of our firsts during the count-back. All’s well that ends well, they say.
The next moments were a blur – Rob asked all of us to gather on the boat for a picture, somehow, someway, from someone (I have no idea who or where) the perpetual trophy was handed to us, and Rob took a great picture of us. Rob pulled me over for the usual run-down of notes about the season, the upgrades, the crew, etc., and when done, I leaned in and quietly added that we would be delighted if he would break the news to our sailing family of friends by mentioning that we had a “legally weighed-in stowaway onboard”– Laraine was expecting our first child (Paige), and she had sailed Friday in place of the teacher who could not get the day off at the beginning of the school year. And no one on the docks or crew knew that afternoon except the three of us. Rob sent a quick note to me a few days later to make sure that was okay, we said yes, and we were quite tickled that he mentioned it for us. In a rather ironic twist of fate, this was one of Rob’s final articles, published as he submitted his resignation. “End of Trail” for a career, yet an announcement of a new life – truly a Rob moment.
My final story is about Mercury racing. Rob went truly retro about a year or so ahead of my Mercury purchase, and after one of the 2005-06 midwinter races in Monterey we had an amusing ‘Rob moment’. While seated at the 'junior sailing' table, which in the Mercury fleet is for skippers under the age of 60, with Rob, Jim Barton, my late boat partner Jeff Richter, and perhaps one or two others, and Rob’s sly little grin started in. He then announced loudly enough to be heard throughout the MPYC Bar, “Steve, you’re a fine sailor who’s done well in other classes, but in the Mercury you won’t do well until you’re at least 70.” Across the room we hear a loud, somewhat indignant and huffy response from the day’s winner: “Hey, I’m not 70!” At this point Rob’s grin is full-on as he turns his head slightly, looks in the direction of the voice, and says “Oh, and how old are you?” The response, from a rapidly deflating voice, was “uh, ah, ah, I’m… 67…” At which point Rob turns back to me, eyes a-twinkle, huge grin, and finishes with “as I was saying…”
Truly a wonderful individual has been taken from us at far too young an age; it is now incumbent upon us all to try and continue in his path of enjoying the moment, remaining positive, gently mentor, and always have a sense of humor.
PS: Leave it to a literary man of words to find the perfect name for a Mercury, based on the great character created by A.A. Milne: Piglet.
PPS: At no time during his final two years since the diagnosis did I ever not believe he would beat this. He was always upbeat, seemingly healthy, and frankly, happier than your average individual walking around with the world by the tail. You just never know, so it's best to enjoy life and play the hand you are dealt the best of your ability. Thank you once again, Rob, you will always be a great mentor.