Sail Testing

I don’t remember exactly when but somewhere during my sophomore and junior years at URI I responded to a posting on the bulletin board at the student union. This led me to Mr. Lynch, who became a lifelong friend. It was a request for someone to do sail testing. Mr Lynch had a friend named Domina Jalbert. He had invented the re-entry parachutes for the space capsules for NASA. A man from Pawtucket, RI, who loved flying kites. He had an idea for sails and needed some practical testing and feedback.

I provided a sail from one of our Beverly dinghys as a pattern, and was shortly given one of Domina’s creations to test. I recruited anyone from the sailing team to sail against, more often than not it was Henry Bossett. I was not a good influence on Henry and his grades suffered.
I would give regular reports to Mr Lynch; effectively saying that the design had merit and deserved further exploration.

The Hermit of Narrow River

When I started school at URI in 1966 the only road to get there was a small winding road. I would pass a falling down house situated on a charming spot. One day I found the courage to knock on the door; thats how I met Bill Lacy, the hermit of Narrow River. He wasn’t really a hermit; he just couldn’t get around very well as he had no car and there certainly was no bus passing by.

The skiffs in the photograph were one of Bill’s only source of income, you could rent one for a quarter a day, to go rowing or fishing on the river.
The photo of Bill sitting on the steps of his house with his cat, tells quite a story.
The man with the rake was Bill’s nearest neighbor, they didn’t speak. His source of income was smoking pogies in his outhouse. I was never certain if he revealed this to his customers.
The day Bill died his house was bulldozed and it was as if he had never existed.


more 1970



In 1970 I sailed the intercollegiate championships in Madison, WI. In those days the team race championships were divided by district. We beat the West coast for the first time in many years; however in the individual championships they dominated.

I arrived the day following the conclusion of the series back in Newport the morning of the start of the Bermuda Race, which I sailed aboard “Carina” Dick Nye’s 48 foot McCurdy & Rhodes sloop. We won overall beating many bigger boats across the line.
Returning to Newport I needed a summer job. It was an America’s Cup summer. I found work on the shore crew for “Heritage” designed, built and skippered by Charlie Morgan, preparing the boat each morning before it left for racing and in the evening upon its return.
I raced the Stamford-Vineyard race on “Carina”. we did well and “Carina” won the NORT(northern ocean racing trophy) a cumulative scored prize.
“Chubasco” a 68 foot S&S yawl from the west coast. We left the dock for the delivery to Ft. Lauderdale,FL the middle of November. The wind never stopped blowing the whole trip. We had 50 knots out of the north for 8 days. wet and wild. Burke Mooney at the helm in the photo.
I returned to Newport. In December I flew to Charleston, SC to jion “Loon” a 45 foot yawl belonging to Gifford Pinchot to help sail it to St. Thomas,VI. He raced actively in the 1950’s and wrote a number of books on the subject. I arrived back to the news that by birthdate had been assigned a lottery number for the draft that would in all likelihood that would never be drawn.

Tornado


In 1977-1978 I teamed up with my college sailing friend Henry Bossett, to campaign a Tornado for the Olympics. I had sailed not only in college with Henry , but E Scows as well, still my favorite monohull.

By the spring of 1978 we were ranked number one in the United States; probably the lightest team sailing a Tornado, which meant we had no room for error.Henry built the sails which were clearly fast and tailored to our needs.
The sailing was thrilling, the competition great, but if you have read this blog , I was juggling a many balls at once.; something had to give, I reluctantly gave notice to Henry. I keep fond memories and can only wonder what the future might have held for us.


windsurfing



I had the first windsurfer on the East coast(sail #48) and won the first New England Championships, which qualified me for the world championship held on Mission Bay, San Diego,CA.(November 1972) I finished sixth, six points out of first, tight racing. As a consequence, I became friendly with Hoyle and Diane Schewitzer;having many wonderful adventures with them. Hoyle has been credited with inventing the sport and the board.

This is a photo of me winning the New England Sunfish Championships, unfortunately I do not remember the date.

Lirakis safety Harness




The 1972 Bermuda race convinced me there was a better design for a safety harness, I am an inveterate tinkerer, always trying to improve on something. Simplicity is the key. Over the next few years I worked in my spare time on developing and refining my ideas. The first harness was sold in 1978. Shortly thereafter I left my job and started producing them full time, I continued to sail until finally the company grew to the point where I was forced to choose.

The harness was simplicity itself; which made it practical and user friendly in today’s words. It was followed shortly by the bosun’s chair, which brought the position of the bowman on a boat into the modern world. It redefined the responsibilities and activities of the man on the bow. Again it just made sense.
The Business continue to expand into many other areas, and responsibilities followed, sailing became a distant memory, but never gone.

college years




the University of Rhode Island sailing team 1966-1970 another great memory remembering how good we once were. As you can see from the photos sailing attire had yet to evolve. the whole environment was a long way from where it is today, nonetheless I would not trade these memories for anything. we won almost everything there was to win. eventually being ranked number two in the nation. never quite making it to number one. most of those pictured are still involved in sailing in some capacity,making contributions to the sport.