Deceased , Modern

Dr. Alan Robin

Wallace

Robin

19422021

From Dr. Wallace’s nominator:

Robin Wallace is a behind-the-scenes, central figure behind Newport and the U.S.  thriving as a world-class sailing capitol.

  • In 1983, after the devastating loss of the America’s Cup off Newport’s shore, Robin immediately met with two local sailors. He shared the concern that the loss of the Cup events would abruptly end Newport’s legacy and status as a premier U.S. sailing venue. The three envisioned a new organization to keep sailing alive in Newport by recruiting and managing national and international events. Sail Newport was born that day.
  • Thirty-eight years later, Sail Newport is a thriving nonprofit sailing center that has served as a template for many other sailing centers around the U.S. Robin has been a consistent figure in growing Sail Newport every year since its inception.
  • From Stuart Streuli, President of Sail Newport, “As an active sailor on Narragansett Bay in a variety of classes over the past 20 years, I can attest to the broad influence of Dr. Robin Wallace on the sport. Simply put, sailing wouldn’t be what it is today in America’s Sailing Capital without his selfless dedication. He’s set an example for excellence and volunteerism to which we should all aspire, even though his track record is unlikely to be matched” .
  • Robin has also been extraordinarily successful at engaging hundreds of local, national, and international event organizers to run their events at Sail Newport, New York Yacht Club, and Ida Lewis Yacht Club.
  • His success with attracting national and international events to Newport and the U.S. is due to his unique ability and willingness to be involved in every aspect of a sailing event. He talks with sponsors, engages other clubs, recruits volunteers, and more often than not, serves as the principal race officer for the event.
  • “Without Robin, the seaside city would have never become the dominant national and international sailing capital it is today,” says Judy McLennan, founder, C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta.
  • Several governors of Rhode Island have appointed Robin to the State Yachting Committee, which is charged with fostering Newport and Rhode Island as an international sailing destination.
  • His list of volunteer roles and officer status is too long to list here. However, it includes decades of service on U.S. Sailing committees, ISAF/World sailing medical committees, and developing the guidelines to keep sailors of all ages safe while participating in the sport.
  • Also, Robin has mentored many race officers, judges, and umpires from around the U.S. He’s invited those individuals to train alongside skilled officials and volunteers who then bring their experience back to their clubs to improve race management.
  • Almost every sailing event in the area has Robin’s name associated with it over the past four-plus decades. This includes the earliest Maxi Grand-Prix events he recruited in the ’80s, the BOC Challenge, the Louis Vuitton Cup, the Olympic Trails, the Newport to Bermuda Race, hundreds of national and world championships, classic yacht regattas, Olympic and Paralympic pre-trials, and many others.
  • “Robin has made significant and lasting contributions to the sport of sailing by enthusiastically supporting the participation of sailors of all ages, skill levels, and adaptive needs through his involvement and wise leadership,” says Timmy Larr
  • For many years, Robin has served the 12 Metre Class to help develop and run dozens of championships to continue the legendary yachts’ legacy.
  • Robin’s work with U.S. Sailing and the World Sailing medical committees is noteworthy. As a physician, he served for many years as a volunteer to develop guidelines to keep sailors of all ages safe while enjoying the sport.
  • Also, Robin is an active board member, past race officer, and volunteer for the C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta. This unique event is one of only a few opportunities in the U.S. for disabled sailors. Sailors travel from around the world for this event that he has developed into a leading U.S. training and racing event.
  • “Without Robin, the seaside city would have never become the dominant national and international sailing capital it is today,” says Judy McLennan, founder, C. Thomas Clagett, Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta. “Robin has been essential to the development of our annual event for sailors with disabilities,” she adds.
  • Robin has many awards and recognitions over the years. He was recently named to the Race Committee Emeritus list of the New York Yacht Club in 2020. Also, Sail Newport honored him with a gala and salute on their 30th Anniversary to recognize his contribution to the public sailing center and the sport of sailing.
  • Above all, Robin is there for the sailors. He is just as comfortable running a world-class sailing event as he is on one knee helping a diminutive youth sailor rig an Opti.
  • Robin is still sought after by organizational authorities, race committees, and yacht clubs worldwide in search of advice or expertise with on-the-water race and regatta management. Although British-born, Robin is an American national treasure.

 

The following obituary was published in Sailing Scuttlebutt on March 21, 2021

Eight Bells: Robin Wallace

Dr. Robin Wallace of Middletown (RI), 84, crossed the bar at home on March 20 after a long struggle, without complaint, with prostate cancer. Born Alan Robin Gordon Wallace on November 20, 1936, in Weymouth, England, he was the only child of Dr. Gordon and Muriel Wallace.

Robin grew up sailing in Weymouth with his father. Robin graduated with a Degree in Medicine from Exeter College in Oxford University. He first visited Newport in 1964, when his father was Commodore of the Royal Dorset Yacht Club, the Challenger of Record, for the British America’s Cup Challenge, as well as Fleet Surgeon; the same position his son would hold years later for the New York Yacht Club.

Robin desired to do his residency in the United States, and did so at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. After completing his residency in the United States, he moved to Newport, and established his practice in association with Dr. Fred Pearce at the Aquidneck Medical Associates.

Soon after he commenced his practice, although a British Citizen, Robin was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served in Vietnam as a Major in the Medical Corps. After his service, he returned to his practice on Memorial Boulevard until retirement in 2003. He remained however the ‘school doctor’ for St. George’s School until 2017.

To describe Robin as an icon in Newport is an understatement. Robin quickly established himself, not only as a sought after pediatrician but also as an avid promoter of sailing.

As a member of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club he and his predecessor, Race Committee Chairman Robert Conner, were determined to establish new standards of excellence in race management. They trained the members of the Club and at the same time introduced to America a European type of level ocean racing called “ton” racing.

The race series for the Sail Cup was an instant success and showcased the race management competence of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, for which it is nationally recognized today.

Robin not only worked on the water, he promoted sailing events for Newport. As the Chairman of the State Yachting Committee, for over seventeen years, he educated the state legislators of the tremendous economic impact that sailing produced for the state.

Probably the most successful events for Newport and the State of Rhode Island were the Volvo Ocean Races in 2015 and 2018 which, it is fair to say, would not have stopped in Newport without the efforts of the State Yachting committee advocating for the release of state funding required to support the event.

Sailing was not Robin’s only love. He was devoted to St. George’s School. He conducted morning “sick call” at the school for over thirty-five years and was instrumental in upgrading the health center and the general wellness of the St. George’s community.

His gentle and respectful manner gained the confidence of many teenagers and they often sought his counsel and advice. He attended football and hockey games, home and away, to provide immediate medical attention to players on both teams in the event of injury. His devotion to the student athletes was recognized by the school when he was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame several years ago.

After the loss of the America’s Cup in 1983, Robin was one of the founding members of Sail Newport, a public sailing organization that provides sailing instruction and boating facilities to the public. Currently all 4th graders in the Newport school system are introduced to sailing at Sail Newport. The organization also runs regattas and hosts many different sailing events and activities that contribute to the betterment of the entire community.

Robin was a Commodore of Ida Lewis Yacht Club and also a long time member of the New York Yacht Club. He was active in race management at both clubs this past season as sailing was one of the sports that one was able to participate in during the pandemic. He was also a long time active member of the Newport Reading Room.

Robin has been long loved by several generations of his pediatric patients and their parents and will be greatly missed by them and a wide spectrum of friends.

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