Living , Modern



1949 -


Rives Potts has consistently, over the decades, proved himself time and again to be a leader in the sailing world. His career spans decades in the marine industry, during times of enormous growth and change, from hands-on keel and boat building to executive leadership. He has sailed thousands of miles in everything from dinghies to 12 meters, all the while making significant contributions to the sport of sailing.

From Rives Potts’ nominator:

With integrity, work ethic, determination and high standards, Rives has contributed to the growth of the marine industry and had success on the race course. An approachable, congenial leader, he considers no task too menial and can often be spotted driving a travel lift, welding a broken cradle, picking up trash, or cleaning the marina heads on Sunday mornings. As a coach and mentor in business and in the sport of sailing, Rives has helped people develop their full potential by taking time to analyze results, give instruction and provide encouragement. He brings experience and dedication to every facet of sailing – VMI engineer, business leader, philanthropist, boat builder, volunteer, sailor and dad.

Honors and Accomplishments:

  • 2017, Dennis Conner Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2015, Elected Commodore of the New York Yacht
  • 2012, Runner up for the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year (to Stan Honey)
  • 2010, 2012, Winner of the Mertz Trophy
  • 2011, Winner of the Commodore Vincent Monte-Sano Award
  • 2010, Mosbacher Trophy as the New York Yachtsman of the Year
  • 2010. Winner of the Northern Ocean Racing Trophy

At-Sea Experience

  • Started sailing in Virginia with his father on their homebuilt Sailfish, and with his uncle on a 22-foot Roger Morton designed center boarder, as well as Penguins, Jet 14’s, 505’s and Flying Dutchmen
  • Crewed on one of the early modern maxi’s, Southern Star, for the 1970 Bermuda Race
  • Raced in Bermuda Races, Chesapeake Bay races, SORC’s and in many New England races such as Block Island Races, Block Island Race Weeks, Vineyard Races, NYYC Annual Regattas and Annual Cruises, Marblehead-Halifax Races, and many other local races
  • Crewed on Tenacious for the 1979 Fastnet Race with Ted Turner
  • Joined Dennis Conner’s crew as a member of the America’s Cup Freedom campaign, served both as project manager and crewman, winning the America’s Cup in 1980
  • Sailed in four other America’s Cup campaigns, three with Conner and one with John Kolius (NYYC) in Freemantle, doing double duty as in-house boat and keel builder/repairer and crew
  • Sailed with Conner in many races around the world, including Ensenada Races, Cal Cups, Maxi Worlds, Big Boat Series, SORC’s, Sardinia Cup, and many local races in CA and in NE during the 1980’s
  • Competed in most of the world’s major ocean races, 3 Transatlantics, 3 Sydney-Hobarts, over 20 Newport-Bermuda Races, approximately 18 SORC’s, 4 Miami-Montego Bays, Several Clipper/Kenwood Cups, 3 California Cups, 1 Congressional Cup, 8 Meter Worlds, 1 Swiftsure Race, 2 Ensenada Races, countless day /overnight races in San Diego, the Chesapeake Bay, New England, 4 Maxi Worlds series, 3 Fastnets, 3 Cowes Weeks, 4 Marblehead-Halifax Races, Mohegan Island Races, Ft. Lauderdale-Key West Races, Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Beach Races, 2001 Queen’s Jubilee Regatta in England, dozens of deliveries back from Bermuda and to/from the Caribbean, and about 20 NYYC Annual Cruises
  • Sailed/raced on notable boats such as Carina (48’ McCurdy & Rhodes), Country Woman (36’ Bob Barton), Rappahanock (37’ Dick Carter), Albemarle Pippin (40’ NY40-Peterson), White Cap (42’ Hinckley), Etoile (46’ S&S), Recluta (German Frers’ first successful racing yacht), Tatoosh (49’ Frers), Williwaw (46’ Peterson), Morning Star (46’ and 50’Frers), Abracadabra(50’ Reichel/Pugh), Retaliation (50’ Frers), Stars & Stripes (60’ Frers sled), Kialoa III, IV & V, Congere (82’ Pedrick), Boomerang (64’ Derecktor/Frers) & (80’ Frers), Southern Star (75’ Tripp), Xargo (80’ Frers), Condor (80’ K. Bushe), Emerude (80’ Frers), Nirvana (80’ Pedrick), Windward Passage (73’ Alan Gurney), Tenacious (61’ S&S), Running Tide (61’ S&S), Ticonderoga (73’ Herreshoff), Rambler 88 & 100, Sumarun (90’ Herreshoff), Sojana (115’ Farr), and the America’s Cup boats…Enterprise, Freedom, Liberty, America II (all 12 meters), and Stars & Stripes (80’ AC class)
  • As the Skipper of Carina, Potts, with his sons and their family friends, have brought home 6 class wins and 2 St David’s Lighthouse Trophies, a couple of Corinthian Trophies and 3 team trophies in Newport-Bermuda Races spanning two decades. Carina has won the Block Island Race, the Vineyard Race, the Round the Island Race in Newport, and the Signet Trophy for the top boat on the NYYC Annual Cruise.
  • On the other side of the Atlantic, Potts won his class in the Fastnet Race on Carina, 2nd in Class twice in the Transatlantic Race, and was overall winner in the Royal Yacht Squadron’s 200th Anniversary Regatta in 2015.

Boat Building Experience

  • Involved in building notable racing sailboats as Boomerang, Flying Goose, and Volcano, and sailed on all three, amongst other well-known boats like Tatoosh, Recluta, and Tenacious
  • Member of the building teams for Bill Ruger’s 90’ power yacht Titania, several patrol gun boats for the US Navy, many modifications to CCA designed racing sailboats to the new IOR design configuration… Carina, Pleione (now Hound), Congere, and about a dozen Swan 44’s, to name a few, and also built masts and booms, rudders and keels for a number of boats
  • Built the twelve-meter Magic, the Frers designed 50’ Retaliation, in conjunction with Custom Marine, poured and installed over 60 keels for the boats converting to the IOR rule, and then later to the IMS rule, and over a dozen new wing keels for the 1987 and 1992 America’s Cup races
  • Directed major refits and modifications to many great racing and cruising yachts at Pilots Point Marina such as Congere, Running Tide, Tenacious, Saga, Tempest, Kialoa, Nirvana, Williwaw, Ticonderoga, Isabelle, Flyaway, Enterprise, Freedom, Blackwatch, Bolero and several yachts for the Herreshoff Marine Museum

Business Experience

  • President, Safe Harbor Marinas, 2019 – Present
  • Chief Operating Officer, Safe Harbor Marinas, 2017 – 2019
  • President and Operations Chief, Brewer Yacht Yards, 2012 – 2016
  • General Manager, Pilots Point Marina, 1980 – 2012
  • Project Manager, Derecktor’s Shipyard, Mamaroneck NY, 1978 – 1980

Sailing Organizations and Philanthropic Work

  • Board Member, Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island 2019 – Present
  • Board Member, College Offshore Sailing Circuit, 2019 – Present
  • Commodore, New York Yacht Club
  • Sailing Committee Chair, New York Yacht Club
  • Rear Commodore, Cruising Club of America
  • Board Member, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding
  • Member, The Landing School Board of Trustees
  • Member, Fishing Bay Yacht Club
  • Member, Royal Yacht Squadron
  • Member, Royal Ocean Racing Club
  • Member, Storm Trysail Club
  • Member, Off Soundings Club
  • Board Member, Connecticut Marine Trades Association
  • Inspector, technical committee Newport-Bermuda Race
  • Volunteer, Safety at Sea
  • Founder, Connecticut Sail Access and Pilots Point Sailing School

Selected Major Race Performances; served as Skipper on Carina, crew on all other boats:

1998 – 2018

  • Newport-Bermuda Race, Carina
  • 6 class wins
  • 2 overall wins, St. David’s Lighthouse Division
  • 1 overall win, North Rock Beacon Trophy
  • Onion Patch Team Trophy 2X
  • Corinthian Trophy 2X
  • Family Trophy 3X
  • Essex Station Trophy 4X
  • Maritime Museum Prize


1980                       Tenacious, Class Win

1982                       Retaliation Class Win

1990                       Etoile Class Win

1997                       Marion-Bermuda Race Carina Class Win

1995                       Marion-Bermuda Race Katama Class Win

1996 – 2018        Block Island Race Carina 4 class wins, 1 overall win

2006 – 2018        Vineyard Race Carina 3 class wins, 1 overall win

1978                       Vineyard Race Tenacious 1 overall win

2011 – 2015        Annapolis-Newport Race Carina 2 class wins, 1 overall win

1974 – 2015        SORC

  • Williwaw Overall class winner
  • Tenacious Overall class winner
  • Morning Star Overall class winner 2X
  • Retaliation Overall class winner
  • Lauderdale/Palm Beach , Running Tide Overall winner

Mid – ‘80’s          50’ Worlds,  Abracadabra, 1st place, Japan, Nantucket, Tortola

1980 – 2005        Maxi Worlds

  • Nirvana 1st place, Norway, Palma
  • Condor 1st place, England
  • Xargo 2nd place, Sardinia
  • Emerude 2nd place, Tortola

1980’s                   California Cup, Kialoa Iv, Winner

2011                       Fastnet Race Carina 1st in class

2019                       Carina, Dorade Trophy for 1st overall for classic yachts

2019                       Carina Team Trophy for NYYC for 1st place

1979                       Tenacious 1st in class, 1st overall

2015                       Royal Yacht Squadron 200th Anniversary Regatta, Carina 1st place overall IRC

2000-2017            New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta, Carina, 1st in class several times

Rolex Around the Island Race, Carina 1st place overall

1972 – 2017        New York Yacht Club Annual Cruise

  • Recluta 2 class wins
  • Tatoosh 2 class wins
  • Whitecap 1st in class many times
  • Temptation 1st in class win
  • Carina 1st in class several times, Cygnet Trophy winner

2010                       12 Meter America’s Cup Reunion Regatta, Newport, with D. Conner

Freedom 1st place overall

1980                       America’s Cup Freedom Winner, crew and project manager

Formal text of nomination, with anecdotes (pdf): Potts, Rives Formal text of nomination


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