Robert Newton Bavier Jr.
“We still bring up our youngsters in tame, relatively heavy boats.”
March 10, 1918 - February 21, 2001
Birthplace: New Rochelle, New York
When Gary Jobson was 19, he remembers crewing for a series of notable skippers who were racing a variety of small boats with the object of selecting a junior boat for Long Island Sound. He raced with Bus Mosbacher, Arthur Knapp, Andy Kostanecki, Cornelius Shields, Jr., and Bob Bavier. Jobson noted in his log book that Bob Bavier impressed him as the best helmsman.
Born into a sailing family – his father was first to sail a Marconi-rigged boat in an ocean race (Bermuda 1923), and was in America’s Cup contender Wheetamo’s afterguard – Bob Bavier won the Sears Cup before leading his Williams College team to Intercollegiate titles in 1939 and 1940. Along the way he skippered Williams to a MacMillan Cup win.
Bavier smartly combined sailing and business when he joined Yachting magazine’s advertising sales staff after WWII. Devreaux Barker, a novice journalist at the time, says Bavier was of immeasurable help to him. “He was a warm, personable man,” Barker recalls, “and a good writer and editor. I never wrote anything without showing it to Bob.” Bavier authored seven books on yacht racing.
Bavier rose to be Publisher of Yachting , with a monthly column of his own, “From the Cockpit.” The column was aptly titled. Bavier kept an ambitious racing schedule, including skippering the 12-meter Constellation to an America’s Cup win in 1964. He served as Vice-President of ISAF. As President of US Sailing, Bavier took the organization to a new level of international participation. He set a high standard of service to the sport.
In his influential column, his opinions were well-founded and tastefully presented. In contemplating the need for a new Cup boat in 1970, Bavier wrote: “I can’t help but wonder if a smaller, lighter boat than the current 12s might have a chance….a new approach might make for a more sprightly boat, better to accelerate after tacking, better at least in light air.” His criticism of sailing in 1970 warranted attention: “We are not in tune with the rest of the world that is zeroing in on light, sporting, two-man centerboarders often equipped with trapezes.”
- Roger Vaughan