Last week we wrote of a Tasmanian sailor, Anne von Gizycki, still skippering her own boat at the age of 90. Thanks to reader Denis Farley, we have found another nonagenarian sailor. Santo Pezzutti turned 90 in this month and is the current Sanderling fleet champion at the Monmouth Boat Club, located in Red Bank, New Jersey on the Navesink River, in the USA. He's been the champion for over a decade and friends say he is a 'fierce competitor' on the water.
Santo (left) sailing his Sunderland recently - photo by Denis Farley
Anne and Santo - continents apart but both skippering their own boats at 90
His life was profiled recently in the local news outlet, the www.http://trtnj.com!Two_River_Times, just before he reached his 90th birthday. But there's more to the story - Santo is not only a sailor - he can also be found in the prestigious 'Who's Who' of American Art, and has had three major shows in the past two years, all the time working as a free-lance art director.
According to the Two River Times, Pezzutti was born in Italy in a family of five children; he has a sister, 83, and a brother, 65. Pezzutti came to the United States just before turning 6, settling with his family in Passaic. His dad, a stonemason, moved the family after World War I, looking for work and opportunities for his children.
Pezzutti’s busy schedule as a painter and an art director still allows time for sailing. Living now on the Navesink’s north shore, he has a perfect view of the Monmouth Boat Club where he has been a member for 52 years and is one of the club’s oldest, but none-the-less most active, racing sailors.
Santo speaking at his 90th birthday
For many years, Pezzutti sailed in the small, one-design Albacore Class with his son Paul as crew. At age 61, Pezzutti realized the small, tender Albacore was for younger skippers. 'It was just too tippy,' he says. Pezzutti switched to the Sanderling class – a larger catboat rigged boat – where he has been more than competitive, almost impossible to beat, for the past decade.
Son Paul continues to crew for his dad and says Pezzutti, as would be expected, sails like an artist 'always looking for the most wind on the water to achieve the closest tacking angle to get to the turning marks and finish line.'
Pezzutti won Sanderling class honors from 2000-2009 and the trophy detailing those accomplishments has been retired; his record never to be equaled.
As he looks forward to the years ahead, he told the Two River Times, he has no plans to slow down. He will continue to work as an art director, paint, exhibit and sail. Pezzutti’s family and friends honored his 90th birthday at a special party at the Monmouth Boat Club on 2nd June.