Robbie Haines, Olympic Gold Medalist and seven time World Champion, joins host Alli Bell on the San Diego Yacht Club Sailcast to talk about the Olympics and his experiences racing with Roy Disney’s Pyewacket.
Robbie started sailing on a sabot his father built while at sea working for Scripps. At eight years old, he sailed solo from San Diego to Coronado. After racing Sabots, Robbie talks about his transition through Penguins and Catamarans to Solings. He reminisces about winning one regatta in South Bay that changed his confidence and leds him to sailing Stars. He then moves on to stories about Star Worlds in 1973 where they unexpectedly took 7th out of 60.
In 1974, Lowell North wanted to crew for Robbie. From there, Robbie talks about his experience sailing with Rodney Eels in the Olympic Trials where they came in 2nd. He told of his experience being alternates for the Olympics, the opening ceremonies in Montreal, and the US boycott for the 1980 Olympics. Robbie told a story about shaking the hand of President Carter and a funny experience involving a cowboy belt buckle and a secret service agent.
“Our uniform was western. We had jeans on, a cowboy hat and a belt buckle… there was a secret service agent [at the White House] that kept staring at my belt buckle.”
While not many people raised money for Olympic campaigns at the time, Robbie and his team were one of the first to get sponsorships for sailing. Robbie talks about his first draft of a budget in 1978 for $15,000 and how that changed over the years.
Robbie continues to talk about training for the Olympics including advice for those training, local friends helping him succeed, and how the only thing he was ever offered after the Olympics was his name on Venetian blinds.
He told stories of traveling the country after their win and began speaking of his adventures sailing with Roy Disney on Pyewacket. He tells us how he got started with the program, where the name “Pyewacket” comes from, and some highlights of his time sailing with Roy and his son.
Each year, Pyewacket schedules about eight off shore races including a Mexico race, Ensenada race, Yachting Cup, SoCal 300, and a race across the pacific – this year being the Transpac Race.
Roy Disney holds the record for most Transpac Races at 24 times.
Robbie begins to explain what the Morning Light Project was and the steps to making the film and watching the success that came out of it. He then speaks of the similarities in the sled classes, newer, updated boats, and a few ways that the sport has changed over the years.
Now, sailing has taken a back seat to Robbie’s family and his four grandchildren who he loves babysitting and watching grow up.
Robbie and the Pyewacket crew will be racing in the Islands Race coming up February 15-16, 2019.