Augie Diaz: 50 Years of Lucky AND Good

Want some inspiration to keep racing dinghies even after cashing your first Social Security check? Look no further. Augie Diaz first won the Snipe Western Hemisphere and Orient Championship in 1972, sailing with his father (known, quite respectfully, as “Old Man” Diaz). Last fall, Augie won the Westerns again (this time with Barbie Brotons). That’s a forty-nine year span between regatta victories—ample time to rack up several other equally impressive titles along the way. 

When I sat down with Augie in September, during a postponement at the 2021 Westerns, I started off with the most obvious question: how do you keep winning for five decades in a class where the unpublished motto is “she who hikes the hardest goes the fastest”? It all boils down to luck, he replies—and also to good crews. Of course that’s his answer; it always is. But after sailing against him for more than twenty years, I know just how much hard work goes into creating that “luck.” Fortunately, we have time to dig a bit deeper before the AP comes down. 

Not just winning races

One less than obvious fact: the guy has a big heart. He’s always helping another new sailor get into the Snipe—and then helping them to get faster. Generations of sailors have joined the class because of the Diaz family; they stick around for its unique combination of competition and camaraderie, certain—partly thanks to Augie’s example—that there will always be more to learn.

There’s more to Augie than just Snipe sailing, of course. There’s the Star Worlds he won in 2016; he’s the oldest guy to ever win a gold star. And that thirteen years of not-sailing when his sons were in need of a Little League coach—a period he refers to as “slavery,” before adding that it also created a bond as tight as the one he has with his own father.

By the time he started sailing again in 1999, Augie’s perspective had completely changed; he still wanted to win, but now he was sailing for fun rather than trying to go to the Olympics. In 2002, he won the Snipe Westerns with Jon Rogers—thirty years after he and Old Man won it the first time. So his 2021 victory makes Augie the only three-time winner of this prestigious international regatta. 

Augie and Old Man 1969 Snipe sailing
I don’t always love the captions Seahorse writes, but they do dredge up some excellent photos.

Is there anyone else in the sailing world who can boast a fifty-year competitive lifespan? If so, I need to interview them too—please make your suggestions in the comments below, or by email. Meanwhile, find your inspiration to keep racing sailboats by reading Augie’s profile in full. Thank you Seahorse, and enjoy!

Augie Diaz: Lucky AND Good

Previous Seahorse profiles

Dawn Riley: Setting the Standard

Clicks of Chance: Onne van der Wal

Just Say Yes: Stan and Sally Honey

Rod Davis: Why You Need His Wisdom in 2021

Rod Johnstone: An Amazing Legacy of Yacht Designs

A Final Conversation with Harry Anderson

Life Lessons from Dave Perry

Vince Brun Profile in Seahorse

Only One Jud (Smith)

4 Replies to “Augie Diaz: 50 Years of Lucky AND Good”

  1. Thank you, Carol! Augie is a perfect example of a true inspiration in the sailing world.
    There are actually a number of folks here on Lake Minnetonka with well over a fifty-year competitive lifespan. The first big name here that comes to mind is Gordy Bowers. When I started racing sailboats full time in 1972, Gordy had already been racing at National and International levels for several decades.
    Cheers 🙂

    1. Thanks Blake for the reminder about Gordy Bowers and others. I wonder if fresh water sailors have a longer competitive lifespan, just like their boats? 🙂 Great to hear from you and thanks for reading.

  2. Nice article. Augie is a pleasure to compete with.

    I vote that you keep focused on dinghy sailors. Howard Hamlin and Ethan Bixby would be two greats.

    1. Dustin, thanks for the vote. I’d love to stay focused on dinghy sailors (and Howie and Ethan are two great ideas), but Seahorse gets the final OK on these profiles. Next up is another name you’ll recognize, though. Thanks for reading!

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