Bob Astrove 2013 Karl Smither Award Winner

A long overdue post to recognize Fleet 50’s own Bob Astrove as the 2013 Karl Smither Award winner.  This award is given annually by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club to the Lightning sailor best representing Corinthian spirit, support of the Lightning class, and Class membership.

The nominations from Corky Gray and Doug Dixon.

Mr. President,

I would like to place in nomination for the Carl Smither Award a life long Lightning sailor and mentor to the people working on Classic Lightnings, Bob Astrove. Carl Smither’s ( Mr Lightning to us) Corinthian spirit, support of the Lightning Class and mentorship is recognized by the St Petersburg Yacht Club by presenting the Carl Smither Award to the Lightning sailor best representing these ideals.

I first met Bob forty years ago when I was a councilor teaching Lightning sailing at Camp Seagull. All ready cutting his teeth crewing for local Lightning sailors back home on the Potomac I could see that he was going places. After college he began racing the Dixie District In a succession of glass boats. With career and family growing he put the Lightning aside. With national interest in classic wooden boats growing he soon was seeing himself back in the Class in a gentlemen’s classic woodie. Sailing #7603 he was soon back on top in the wooden boat racing and a tough competitor in fleet 50.

Following Craig Thayer’s lead he set up the popular Wooden Lightning Yahoo Group. Open to both wooden and glass classic Lightnings it has become one of the most positive faces of the ILCA. Bob tirelessly fields questions and shepherds the folks new to the Lightning through the steps of restoration. Bob’s work on the site and on the water is at its best when it’s introducing young folks to the Lightning. It’s a Dad in western NY needing help restoring a glass Lippincott #9235 to teach is son to race. A young man in Michigan wanting to build a Lightning for a graduation project. Helping a Philadelphia intercity youth program restore several wooden Lightnings. And we all have seen him in Charleston with collegiate sailors crewing a Lightning for the first time.

All these things are in the spirit of Carl Smithers love for the sport and the Class. A hard act to follow I think Bob is right on his transom.

Corky Gray


I would like to “second” this nomination. While Bob has been a key Lightning Class member, sailor, racer, Dixie District Commodore, Fleet Captain (PRSA & SSA), and mentor to other new Lightning sailors for other 40 years as Corky notes, all of which alone would be justification for this award, he has gone above and beyond with his contribution to restoring interest in and activity among Classic Lightning Sailors. This has included editing the regular “Classic Lightning” section of Flashes, organizing and maintaining the Classic Lightning Yahoo Group, organizing annual Classic Lightning events, a key organizer of the Classic portion of the Lightning Class 70th Anniversary event in Skaneateles, and most importantly being the mentor for those who have been brave to enter the restoration world of Classic Lightnings.

Like Corky notes in his proposal, Bob is an outstanding example of Carl Smither’s Corinthian spirit and well deserving of this award.

If it was not for Bob, my #584 may way still be rotting in a barn as “wood” along with many other Classics if it was not for him.

Doug Dixon

 Bob Astrove exemplifies all the characteristics of this award. I first met Bobby in the fall of 2006 when I joined the Potomac River Sailing Association and started crewing in Fleet 50 racing Lightnings in the Sunday series. I was most impressed to see Bobby sailing wooden 7603 every week knowing the labor of love necessary to maintain a wooden boat and impressed to watch how fast he could make it go even in the lightest of breezes while frequently coaching up new crew. Off the water he’s always busy in the background supporting the fleet as Treasurer, helping organize the Potomac Cup, and last year serving as the Regatta Chair and Chief Everything for the 2012 Dixie Districts or helping secure other people’s boat in preparation for a hurricane.

Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition!

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