Short Tack with Bab Maher

Published: May 2005

Why did you sell Java?

Between racing Sundowner, a Catalina 42, and Java for the past 10 years we have participated in about 600 races and I suppose there is a little bit of burn-out involved. A subliminal factor may be that I have kept boats an average of 7 years and Java will be 7 years old in July.

Some say that you had enough of PHRF. Is this true?

Not at all, I still think that PHRF is a good system that is responsive to change when it is needed. Also where else can you have a excuse for sailing poorly? You can always blame it on your rating and the idiots that can't see that your rating should be increased or your competition has a "sweetheart" rating because of "politics".

What was your most memorable Java race?

Two races stand out as memorable. Last year's Leukemia Cup with Buddy Melges was the most memorable. He was on board for three races and never stopped teaching the entire time. He showed that dedication to details, practice (we had to tack 10 times and jib the chute 4 times before each race), and concentration are the big differences in how you perform on the race course. We did have 3 first places. The other race that is memorable is our last race where I screwed up the start and we came in fourth. It's easy to forget the wins but you always seem to remember when things go poorly.

Will you still have that famous annual Java party?

Sure we will have the Java parties, you may change a boat but certainly not your friends. The greatest bonus in sailing is the people you meet and the lasting friendships. I even learned to bark at people on the race course.

What is wrong with the sport of sailing? DI, PHRF fleets are down, Leukemia Cup is up.

I don't think anything is wrong with sailing, it's just living in New Orleans, there are more and more diversions to take one away from the race course. During March and April, prime sailing months, you have Mardi Gras, St Patrick's parades, French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest. The Leukemia Cup is doing well because sailors realize the need and many have had Leukemia touch their lives in one way or another. My neighbor died due to leukemia and just look at the battle that Gary Jobson and others has been through fighting the disease. It's the sailor's chance to do some good while enjoying the sport of sailing.

You continue to raise more money for LC than anyone. What is your secret?

It is a team effort and was started when we had Sundowner. Each crew member raised money by asking friends and business contacts. Through the years we have had crew members come and go but most of the crew remain very helpful. Our big fund raisers this year were Celeste Roman, Riess Livaudais, and Burt Benrud. Contributions came from family, friends and business associates.

The easiest way is through a letter writing or email campaign but personal contact is best when looking for the sponsor dollars.

Our boat total was $24,000 and makes me even prouder of the crew.

How's Riess holding up?

Our changing boats came as a big surprise to all, including Riess, but if I would have talked it over with the crew it probably never would have happened. I know the crew really enjoyed sailing on Java. I hope they will enjoy the power boat.

Word on the piers is that the new Beneteau powerboat you acquired is to be named "Second Cup"?

We have had many suggestions, some really good like Bonne Tasse or Java Express and then we have had the not so good ones like Java Dabba Du (I guess you have to be a Flintstone fan). Since the boat is all white a good try was the name Powdered Sugar. With that said, your source is pretty good because the naming committee likes 2nd Cup a lot.

Thanks for your time.