Smooth sailing for Boyles

Published 7:33 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Randy Boyles and his crew sail to victory on the “Rocket J” during the 2011 North Carolina Offshore Championship Regatta. The victory was the first of back-to-back titles for Boyles and his staff. (Contributed Photo)

After going nearly 30 years without winning, it seems like suddenly Randy Boyles can’t lose. Boyles recently won the B classification of the North Carolina Offshore Championship Regatta for the second straight year leaving the skipper with a smile as wide as a shark’s grin.
“I was thrilled to death,” Boyles said. “This year was particularly satisfying because the boats were competitive with each other. It’s not just like we happened to show up on a day where there was nobody good, they were all good.”
Boyles commands the “Rocket J,” a 30-foot J Boat whose name is a tribute to the cartoon squirrel in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon.
“My wife (Joni) and I were doing a lot of animal and wildlife rehabilitation when we got the boat,” said Boyles, who docks his boat at the Washington Yacht and Country Club. “(The) Rocket J is named after Rocket ‘Rocky’ J. Squirrel of the Rocky and Bullwinkle series.”
While the boat’s name is tribute to Rocky, it was nothing but smooth sailing for Boyles and his crew as they were able to win the annual Memorial Day weekend race once again thanks to flawless team effort.
“These guys on the boat sailed perfectly,” Boyles said. “Everything worked. Everything was done right when it was supposed to. Winning is one thing, but winning when you know you sailed really well, I think that adds an extra element of satisfaction.”
Along with Boyles, the Rocket J is manned by Mike Hession (mainsail trim/tactics), Tom Hughes (jib and spinnaker trim), Paul Baumbach (jib and spinnaker trim), Bob Neel (pit), Dave Dickhaut (mast) and Neal Craven (foredeck).
Boyles has competed in this race each year since 1991 and said that the knowledge gained from years of competition and sailing paved the way to victory.
“It’s a learning experience,” Boyles said. “I was happy to be anywhere close to the middle of the fleet in the early days, but then we got into the 2000s and we started to get a lot better and get some thirds and I think I got about five second places.”
Part of that experience for Boyles and his crew was learning how to work as a team.
“A lot of things have to come together to win a sailboat race. First of all, you have to have really flawless crew work and that’s something we have had each of the last two years,” Boyles said. “When you sail together long enough you don’t look at what everybody else is doing and you don’t talk about what everybody else is doing. You just know what’s about to happen and you know what the other guys are going to be doing at any given time so it becomes automatic.”
Aside from stellar teamwork, Boyles said it also helps to have good equipment.
“The second thing that makes a difference is the sails of the boat itself have to be in pretty good shape,” Boyles said. “Every couple of years you’re going to need to buy sails and it just so happens that I’m in the part of the cycle where I have some pretty new sails and that really makes a difference.”
With new sails and a veteran crew, Boyles, his crew and the Rocky J all appear to be in good shape themselves which should make for some more smooth sailing in the future.