However, after moving back to Oregon into the mid-Willamette Valley, Bob was left without the waters which surrounded the Seattle area. Over the next 10 years he only sailed occasionally. Then, five years ago he was invited to crew on some co-workers boats, an Olsen 25 and Laser 28 at Fern Ridge Reservoir, where he got the bug again. Bob looked at and read about trailerable keel boats. He decided against a centerboard boat and the hassle with hiking straps or trapeze and trying to stay dry. He didn't want the cruiser-type boats that were out there or the expense of a Melges 24. He also wanted a boat which would be easy to sail so he could get his kids involved in crewing.
Bob saw his first Ultimate 20 in Washington during the 1995 Whidbey Island Race Week. Kent and Gina Morrow let him poke around their boat, and in April Kent invited Bob to Seattle to test drive the U20 during a local regatta. Kent picked a wonderful day, with squalls, horizontal rain and a little sun—a nice normal Spring day in the Northwest. Kent had two riders that Saturday, a local resident and Bob. With two greenhorns on his boat, while trying to avoid a race in progress and wind shifts Kent managed to accidentally do a flying jibe. They all retained their heads and didn't even get wet in the 20 knot winds. Later, after Kent gave in to Bob's urging to fly the chute, one of the gusts knocked them down. The Ultimate 20 healed 80 degrees, but the deck remained dry, and Bob had no trouble staying in the cockpit with the heel cleats. Those moments sold one boat ... and sent the other guy home for his life.
Along with Kent Morrow, Bob took the lead in getting the Northwest District U20s together at the 1997 Memorial Day Regatta on Fern Ridge Reservoir near Eugene, for our first-ever regional event. Sailing his new boat, Rogue, Bob finally beat his old nemesis Kent Morrow across the finish line of the first race, in a hailstorm, only to be told that the race had been abandoned because of lightning on the course. As a consolation prize, however, Bob went on to win the three race regatta the following day.
In September, 1997 Bob traveled about 2500 miles to Pensacola for the Ultimate 20 Nationals, where he won the first race but fell victim to inconsistency and placed sixth overall. And the following year, on his home turf in Eugene, he led the 1998 Nationals going into the last race and missed winning the series by a single point. His example should be a real inspiration to all new members of our class!