Sailor Spotlight: Bobby Koar
I recently asked a friend of mine, "What do you think makes Bobby Koar such an awesome person?" I immediately agreed with the response: "Bobby is a genuinely nice guy, fun to be around, and is inclusive of everyone. He crosses lines-- both generationally and from yacht club to yacht club--to make sure that everyone is included and having a good time."
Bobby loves Bay Head YC. He grew up sailing in the junior sailing program, and immediately returned after college. Not many young people get involved in the flag officer positions until later in life, but Bobby dove right in, wanting to help shape the junior sailing program and oversee sailing as the club's Rear Commodore. Bobby was an advocate for the Bay Head Techs because he knew it would get more people out on the water. Bobby races E-Scows each week, scooping up as many BHYC members as he can to get them racing. And Bobby's passion and enthusiasm are contagious to all those who he meets. We are lucky to have him on the bay!
Name: Bobby Koar
School: CBA, Roger Williams
Yacht Club: Bay Head Yacht Club
1) Bobby, you are the Rear Commodore at Bay Head Yacht Club. All yacht clubs assign duties differently. What does the Rear Commodore at Bay Head YC do? The duty of the Rear Commodore at the BHYC is basically the overseeing of the sailing community from top to bottom. We have over 180 kids in our junior sailing program with approximately 18-20 instructors. The Rear Commodore approves the budget and the hiring of the instructors and works lockstep with the junior sailing committee during the process of each. On the adult sailing side, the RC heads up the club’s sailing committee which meets quarterly to review any and all sailing related issues ongoing at the club. We have several fleets at the BHYC which sail very competitive inter-club series throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall.
To summarize, the Rear Commodore’s main objective is continuing the already very successful sailing program and always looking for more ways to promote sailing among our membership to make the community even stronger.
2) Bay Head YC did a major renovation after Superstorm Sandy. Tell me about the renovation that was needed and what the club is like today. Sandy left the club with approximately six feet of water in our first level dining room. At that time the Club board was already in discussions about updating the club so this storm just moved things up a lot faster. Over the next two years the club underwent a massive renovation which saw almost 70% of the main club house completely redone. What you see today would not have been possible without the leadership of the flag officers, board of trustees, club employees, and the generosity of the membership at that time. I also can't forget Joe Lucas who made countless trips out from California to oversee the entire furnishing of the club. It was a true team effort and the club looks amazing today.
3) One thing Bay Head YC did was purchase first 6, and then another 6 (totaling 12) tech dinghies. These boats are available for members to sail casually in the summer or race on weekends in the off-season. How have the tech boats helped sailing at Bay Head YC? Why did you guys choose the tech specifically? About two and a half years ago during a sailing committee meeting, then Rear Commodore at the time (Mitch Shivers) handed Andy Goetting and myself a task: Find me a boat the club can purchase to promote sailing among the adult members who want to learn how to sail. It should also reengage the young members who maybe fell out of the sport after their years in the junior program. As Mitch was addressing the committee I remember writing “the tech” on my note pad and showing it to Andy. We knew right away what we were looking for. Both Andy and I went to Roger Williams University and spent a lot of time on the Charles River racing in MIT's fleet of Techs. They are pretty much adult Optis. We needed a boat with durability but also a boat you could sail single or double handed. We considered some other boats, but as we went through the criteria there weren’t many other options-- especially when you took in overall cost. The Tech was the perfect boat. So we bought six and then six more the following year. We now have a Spring Series, Fall series, Sunday series during the summer months, not to mention plenty of private lessons being booked as well. It was a home run. I would strongly urge more clubs to buy a couple of these if they are searching for similar objectives.
4) Next summer, Bay Head YC (in conjunction with Mantoloking YC) is hosting the E-Scow Easterns. What does hosting a regatta like this entail? Is it true that Bruce Springsteen will be the musical entertainment for the banquet? We are very excited about hosting the Easterns next Summer! We have a great committee in place from both clubs and I believe it will be a very well-run regatta. Hosting a regatta of this size takes a lot of planning but the team we have put together is battle-tested so I know it will be great. I have reached out to Bruce’s people but have still not heard back. If he cannot make it we will make sure we have a good back up plan.
5) You have been sailing the E scow for a long time. When did you first start? What was your first experience like? Your Dad is known as one of the best bowmen ever, what is it like sailing with him and sailing with family? I think I was a freshman at CBA when my dad bought our first E scow from John Harkrader. It was a 91 or 92 Melges E-Scow I believe and a really fast boat. I remember the first BBYRA race we sailed in the summer of 1998. My siblings were still a bit young so I was the only one of the kids on the boat. I was on bow, my Dad was steering, and we had Erica Amon trimming kite and Ricky Lang on boards. It was one of those early summer big westerly mornings. I remember how loud the main was when we put the sail up. We had only been out practicing a couple times and not in anything close to this breeze. It was probably 20-22 knots and very puffy. You all know the days! There were only three other boats out that morning: Had Brick, Paul Magno and Cliff Campbell. Something I will never forget was pulling up to the starting line with about 45 seconds to go and looking to leeward to see this light grey boat with a blue stripe underneath us. I didn’t know who it was but I looked at my dad and he seemed really uncomfortable. I asked him what the problem was, and I will never forget him saying “you do not want to start to windward of Cliff Campbell.” Then the gun went off and I realized about 15-20 seconds later, he was right; we had no business starting to windward of Cliff Campbell. We then went on to round the first windward mark in a big shift and went for a jibe. After I was finally able to get the pole off and re set, we were hit by a huge puff and over we went. After the boat swamped, Runnie Colie came over to us in his whaler with Billy Wight and towed us until the boat was able to drain. I recall Runnie shouting instructions at me on where to tie the tow line. I initially went for the mast but he yelled back to tie it to the front eye on the bow insisting it could hold the weight with no problem. He was right, of course. To this day when we are setting up our tow to go down bay with multiple boats, the tow lines are attached always from the bow, never the mast.
After the first couple of summers I had had enough of the bow and my dad the same with the sticks so we switched. This was still years before we changed to the asymmetrical spinnaker so I really got to see how good my dad was on bow. His jibes with the pole were seamless. Fred Slack came up to me one day and said, “you should try sailing with someone else on bow, then you’ll know how good your father really is.” Luckily I never got that opportunity. One thing I really miss about the symmetrical days was the plane to plane jibes. The boat would only have to change heading about 10-15 degrees so with a perfect jibe you didn’t come off the plan. These jibes were only possible when you had a great jib man, and I had the best.