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Robin’s rocking return to Classic Yacht Regatta

Ted Hood, 81, and his 1958-launched Robin — a 50-year-old boat he designed himself that many credit as the launching pad of his celebrated yacht-design career — topped the 63-boat fleet at the 29th Annual Classic Yacht Regatta.
Racing on the opening day of the regatta was cancelled after a long postponement on windless waters shrouded in fog and a drizzle of rain. Conditions on Day 2 were a complete turnaround: the fleet of classics, which mixed restored boats dating to the early 1900s with modern “spirit of tradition” yachts of contemporary build and classic styling, was treated to a teen-strength northerly breeze and clear blue skies.

The schooner Eleonora sails under the Newport Bridge at the Best Life Classic Yacht Regatta held in late August. Venerable designer and sailor Ted Hood helmed his newly restored yacht Robin to the top of the fleet.“We had ideal conditions, and a little bit of everything,” says Hood (Portsmouth, R.I.), commenting on the breeze and the 18-mile, round-the-island course with a good balance of upwind and downwind sailing. Among Robin’s crew were Hood’s sons, Rick and Bob, along with several grandchildren.

Hood’s Robin was a fitting boat to capture overall honors, a boat with enduring qualities that have withstood the test of time. When Hood launched Robin, the first of his big-boat designs, she was considered radical with a centerboard and a tall rig. Her first season, Robin won seven of the 12 races she entered. Hood then turned his talents toward creating a string of fast boats and sails and winning the America’s Cup in 1974, while Robin was sold to a series of different owners. Finding the boat later in disrepair and in need of a refit, Hood purchased Robin back and restored her — a process he estimates as costing five times what her original build cost. But the boat that once turned heads in the 1950s was able to do so again this summer.

Additional trophy winners included defending champion Black Watch, a 68-foot Sparkman & Stephens yawl skippered by Richard Breeden of Newport that topped the Best Life Class. Sponsor Panerai presented wall clocks to top performers that championed the competition in their classic category, including: Chips, a 1913 50-foot Burgess-designed sloop skippered by Jed Pearsall of Newport; Zbynek Zak’s Eleanora (Zug, Switzerland), a Herreshoff-designed gaff schooner that measures 135 feet on deck; Equus, a spirit-of-tradition W-46 owned by Jeremy Pochman (Nantucket, Mass.); Sonny, a 1935 Sparkman & Stephens sloop owned by Joe Dockery (Newport, R.I./Greenwich, Conn.) and helmed by George Isdale (Greenwich, Conn.); and White Wings, a 76-foot W-Class sloop entered by Donald Tofias of Newport.

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