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Weather router Bob Rice closes shop

Jan 1, 2003

An institution in the marine industry and the adventure expedition industry recently announced his retirement from the weather-routing business. Bob Rice, whose company Bob Rice Weather Window has provided weather routing information to seemingly every high-profile sailboat record attempt, announced in August that he would be closing his Wolfeboro, N.H., office. He will, however, be offering weather services to New Zealand's America's Cup campaign this winter. Here's a look at some of Rice's contributions: He guided Phil Weld to victory in the 1978 Route du Rhum; routed Dodge Morgan in his 1986 solo circumnavigation aboard American Promise; routed two Jules Verne Trophy winners to victory (ENZA New Zealand, 1994, and Sport Elec, 1997); and offered weather analysis to New Zealand's team, which took the America's Cup in 1995. Rice also assisted American technology magnate Steve Fossett in his various adventures in balloons and sailboats. While Fossett failed to be the first to circumnavigate by balloon last year, Rice picked a weather window and route for Fossett aboard the 105-foot cat PlayStation in March 1999, which established the fastest run in a 24-hour period. "Bob offers precise advice, like when he says, 'You should gybe now,' it's really the exact time to do it," said French photographer and former Fastnet winner Christian Fevrier, who has worked closely with Rice over the years. "I'd have to say that my real reward was formulating a service that helped people accomplish their goals, whether it be records, races, or fulfilling dreams," Rice said. "These were activities that I personally would not have attempted, yet I was allowed to play an active part in achieving, literally, hundreds of records and achievements." Rice acknowledged that the most difficult aspect of the job was knowing that people were trusting their lives to his decisions about how to choose and interpret weather scenarios. "These friends were placing not only their dreams but their lives in my hands. I experienced every thrill and fear that they did, and I think this is what made it all possible: that I understood what they were going through; I went through it with them."