I have known Lester on and off for 30 years, at least. Totally counterculture with a rascal’s edge, i always liked him, even though he was a pain in the ass sometimes. He sailed with a wingnut named Aaron Sturm and those two were always up to something.
I appreciated his mojo and we stayed in touch right up to the end. – ed.
What would you do if you found out that death was just around the corner? For 70 year old life-long Moore 24 sailor Lester Robertson, the answer was to race across the Pacific on a small ULDB, just one last time. If placed in the same situation, many who read this could only hope to show the same courage, tenacity and will to live that Lester displayed throughout his seven decades of living.
Adventurer, ocean sailor, land-sailing world champion, husband, father and friend, Lester was many things to many people, and the outpouring of support and condolences from the west coast sailing crowd humbly confirms a life lived well and to the fullest. Lester died peacefully in his home – succumbing to a battle against cancer – in the company of his two sons Jack and Sam, his loving wife Mary and a family friend. Lester was conscious to the end and well aware of what day it was, and what regatta was taking place.
In a brief tribute to his departed friend and sailing partner on social media, Pacific Cup co-skipper Randy Parker Jr. summed Lester up succinctly, “He was one hard working, hard-ass, old-school salty sailing hippy and that’s why I liked him.” Randy certainly knew Lester better than I did, but i’d say he hit the nail on the head with his description.
Lester has been racing Moore 24’s across the Pacific since people started doing that sort of thing, and had perhaps his best run last summer when he knew the end was near. Sailing in the 1980 Singlehadned Transpac, Lester sailed a little Moore 24 named Legs to Hawaii, and nearly four decades later he and Randy’s Moore 24 Foamy came triumphantly planing into Kaneohe Bay, O’ahu, having been in contention for a Pacific Cup class victory for much of the race.
Having been diagnosed well into his preparations for the 2018 Pacific Cup, Lester continued to sail to the end. His last regatta was in San Francisco this January and his last land-sailing event in March. Around the time that he passed on Saturday June 1, a better-than-forecast breeze filled in and allowed a Moore 24 to plane it’s way to overall victory in the annual Delta Ditch run, a race Lester had sailed many times.
A memorial will take place at Lester and Mary’s house in Carson City this Saturday afternoon, guests are encouraged to wear their favorite regatta shirts, or Hawaiian themed shirts.
Sail on Lester.