by Christina Pandapas
Family racing is a hallmark of the Rhodes class, so it is no surprise that Rick and Jess Berliner chose the Rhodes several years ago when they were looking for boat that would give them the opportunity to try racing. The Berliners found good company in a fleet with a number of married racing couples, but two things made them a bit of a stand out their first year. The first was that they had the only brown boat on the course. The other was less obvious, and more endearing: Jess’s mom was their third. And even more than that, in an over-the-top demonstration of crew appreciation, they named the boat after her.
The Marjorie Ann (#2690) is the first boat Rick has ever owned and the tribute to his mother-in-law has surely secured him a hefty helping of good karma.
“Jess grew up in Marblehead and crewed for her dad, John Radloff, on a Corinthian,” Rick explained. “Her dad had named the Corinthian ‘Jessica Lee,’ and when he sold it for a power boat, he carried the name over despite Jess’s protests that he should name the new boat after someone else, like, say, his wife. Once we got the Rhodes she did what her dad had not and named it after her mother, Marjorie Ann.”
Rick learned to sail in a Sunfish at a Boy Scout camp on Seneca Lake, New York when he was a youth and later worked as a camp counselor teaching basic sailing in Sunfish, Hobies, and what he called “cobbled-together centerboards.” He kept sailing in a college club at grad school at the University of Washington, Seattle, and one season at Courageous Sailing Center, but had not raced. Both he and Jess wanted to try their hands at racing, and during a fortuitous walk through Parkers Landing, met JP Zonnenberg, whose enthusiasm convinced them the Rhodes was the way to go. “That hunch has been borne out well,” said Rick. “We’ve gotten lots of suggestions and help from other fleet members, which was important because our boat was a family cruiser, and we are still slowly working our way through the upgrades to get it more competitive. We didn’t actually plan to race it as much as we do.” The racing bug seems to have bitten the Berliners hard. So much so that it has caused an evolution in Marj Radloff’s role on the team. “We used to get Marj the Person to come out for sail regularly on Marj the boat. But since the birth of Amelia and Charlotte [the Berliner’s twins], Grandma Marj sticks to land and watches the babies when we race,” Rick noted with obvious gratitude.