Richard Boehmer

He is one of the worlds sailing speed experts. During last three decades he has compiled astonishing databases of sailing speed and race records which serve as the foundation of his research into and understanding of sailing speed performance.

In 1980 I met him for the first time at the Goat Island Marina in Newport. I could not miss his trailer, parked close to the Solo Transatlantic Race, OSTAR 1980, office. I was immediately fascinated by his computer graphic work, despite the fact that back then a computer could handle only four colors plus black and white. I could pick any three competitors from my race and Boehmer would dynamically display together our daily progress from the start in England to the finish in Newport upon a projection TV that was attached to his computer. I left his trailer with a printouts of some of my competitors and with a dream  of having something like that on board and being able to make tactical decisions by simply watching the progress of my rivals right on a computer screen in real time.

Eight years before I met him, Richard began his public service career after having earned a master’s degree in marine affairs at the University of Rhode Island. He also has a master of science in oceanography from another university. In his spare time he began combining the two things which fascinate him – speed and the sea.

First he created a unique way to analyze the speed of 19th-century clipper ships which he termed TREP for "Time Related & Equivalent Performance". Then he started adding modern sailing record information to his database. Also he derived a formula for predicting a vessel’s best 24 hour average speed which he termed Base Speed.

In 1977, he wrote the book "Multihull Ocean Racing". In 1980 Phil Weld invited Boehmer to work with him and the ocean race weather adviser, Bob Rice, to plan his race strategy for the solo transatlantic race – OSTAR of that same year. Boehmer also did route planing for Tom Grossman who was booked as odds favorite to win the race. Although Grossman had an unfortunate accident at the start, Boehmer’s other client Phil Weld won the race. Boehmer had his bets covered!

First with Nobby Clarke then on his own Boehmer provided the annual updates of marine – primarily sailing – records for the Guiness Book of World Records until 1993 when Guinness decided to no longer include them in their records book.

Boehmer has written over 100 articles on sail performance for both the popular press and for technical journals in the US, Canada, England, & even South Africa. Some of his work has been translated into French and German.

He may soon publish his study of the component of "Crew Skill and Luck" in the prediction of sailing speed performance which is based on over 5000+ cases of one-design and near one-design boats ranging from the 15 minute sprints of frost-biters to the nearly year long circumnavigations of the Whitbread and BS/BT Globe Challenge.

Many ocean racers and sponsors are turning to Richard Boehmer for his unbiased speed analyses of their sailing machines and of their competition’s sailing vessels. Designers always boast that their new designs are the fastest, but Boehmer knows the truth!

He can be contacted at

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