Robert Bavier Sr. (Bob), a life-long sailor, distinguished himself in American sailing with his contributions, records, and innovations in many of the early Bermuda races (1907-1936) and as the tactician on Weetamoe in the 1930 America’s Cup Trials.
Highlights as a pioneer and innovator in the Bermuda Race from 1907-1936:
- First skipper to win the Bermuda race with a Marconi rig in his yawl Memory in 1924.
- First skipper to finish first, three times in a row, in 1923, ’24 and ’26.
- First owner to have a boat designed specifically to the Bermuda race rule with his ketch Dragoon in 1926.
- First skipper to win in a single-masted boat with Rudy Schaefer’s sloop Edlu in 1934.
- First skipper to gain five major race trophies (First to Finish or First Overall).
A Brief Timeline of Robert N. Bavier’s Sailing Career
- 1902 – Won 27 out of 32 races on the 26-foot New Rochelle One-Design class
- 1904 – Sailed in the first long-distance race for smaller boats, a 330-mile race from New York City to Marblehead, Massachusetts on Frank Maier’s 36-foot yawl, Fanshaw
- 1907 – Was sailing master of Maier’s 49-foot schooner, Hyperion, in the Bermuda Race, finishing only five hours behind the 85-foot Dervish and placing second in Class B
- 1910s – Skippered other peoples’ New York 40’s and 50’s, winning the King’s Cup, Queen’s Cup, and Astor Cup, dominating both classes on Long Island Sound
- 1923 – As the Bermuda Race re-emerged after World War I, Bob was part of a select group of six men to design rules, foundation, and mission for the race
- 1923 – First to Finish in the Bermuda Race, sailing Memory, the first Marconi-rigged boat to be entered in an ocean race (the rig was custom-made by Bob himself)
- 1924 – First to Finish and First Overall in the Bermuda Race on Memory, now outfitted with innovated designs such as a light-weather trysail, safety lines, and a “dog kennel” over the companionway
- 1924, 1934 –Skippered first Nathaniel Herreshoff-designed boat, Memory, to win 1924 Bermuda Race, and the first Olin Stephens-designed boat, Edlu, to win in 1934
- 1925 – Elected Commodore of the Cruising Club of America
- 1926 – Cruising Club of America and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club became Bermuda Race co-sponsors and still are
- 1926 –First to finish the Bermuda Race in his 66-foot ketch, Dragoon, designed and built specifically for the race. Bob became the first Bermuda Race skipper with three First-to-Finishes in a row
- 1927 – While sailing on Dragoon off the coast of Maine with his young family and crew, survived the famous hurricane of August 1927, while other boats and crewmen were lost at sea
- 1928 – Developed an allowance for the resistance of a propeller that was adapted for the Bermuda Race rating rule
- 1929 – Had designed and built the eight-meter boat, MAB, to vie for the Seawanhaka Cup against the Scots; he voluntarily withdrew mid-summer upon realizing his light-air boat was not up to the challenge
- 1930 – Tactician in Weetamoe’s afterguard during the 1930 America’s Cup trials, just missing out to Enterprise, who went on to win the Cup
- 1931-1932 – One of the founders of frostbite racing on Long Island Sound, winning frequently in his dinghy, Snowball
- 1932 – Bought an Atlantic Class boat, sharing skippering duties with his young son and daughter, and won the Long Island Sound Championship
- 1933 – Sailed Horace Havemeyer’s Mouette in a special race for 12 meters, beating out renowned Olin Stephens in Iris
- 1934 – Skippered Rudy Schaefer’s sloop, Edlu to first overall in the Bermuda race, making Edlu the first single-masted boat to win that race
- 1936-1937 – Raced X Dinghies in Biscayne Bay, Florida, winning frequently
- 1936 – Part of a New York Yacht Club committee that selected the famous Sparkman and Stephens New York 32 as their Auxiliary One-Design Class
- 1937-1939 – In the early years of the International One-Design Class, was among 25 of the most successful and knowledgeable group of skippers of the time; Bob won five straight races at Larchmont Race Week, a feat which so astounded his competitors that they chipped in and bought him a prize to commemorate the achievement
- 1946 – In his last race of importance, at the age of 64, won the New York Yacht Club run from Edgartown to Newport by the widest margin ever recorded at that point in a NYYC Cruise event
- 1962 – Sailed his last race on the Chesapeake Bay with his daughter, Margery, and family
To read some excerpts from Robert N. Bavier, Sr.: A Sailing Pioneer, by Kelsey Donald (pdf): Bavier, Sr., Robert excerpt from biography