Industry mourns sailing Hall of Famer

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Runyon “Runnie”Colie Jr., a 2013 inductee of the U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame, died June 26. He was 98.

Colie won seven international titles between 1947 and 1962 in the Penguin, the hottest dinghy class at the time.He also sailed E-Scows on Barnegat Bay.

“He wasn’t a footer,”Buddy Melges, who has won eight championships in E and A Scows, told Scuttlebutt. “Runnie sailed close to the wind and went faster than anyone else. That technique made him perfect for scows, where the angle of heel is critical because a scow is really a catamaran in a monohull’s body. Upwind, you wet the rail, get the bilge board vertical and `fly a hull.’He was a damn good helmsman and a damn good tactician.”

The proof is Colie’s seven Eastern E-Scow Championships—he missed an eighth title at age 78. After placing second in 1959 and 1961 at the E Scow Nationals, he won the regatta in 1966—the first Easterner to do so.

Two years before that, Colie had gotten into a 5.5-Meter and lost to George O’Day in the Olympic trials by one point. It was a light air series, and Colie was sailing a boat that Britton Chance Jr. had designed for heavy air that Chance’s father had rejected. Chance Sr. was among those Colie beat in the trials.

Colie started young, crewing for his mother. He won two Barnegat Bay Championships in the classic Sneakboxes in the 1930s.

A three-time winning skipper in the College Nationals for MIT, he was later elected to the InterCollegiate Yacht Racing Association Hall of Fame.

“He had a sixth sense of how to make a boat go fast all the time,”Melges said.

“The Holy Grail back then was an opportunity to crew for Colie,”said Peter Commette, a Barnegat Bay Olympian (Finn) in the 1980s.