Hall of Fame

Richard Burnett

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

Harvard captured its third McMillan Cup, for the Intercollegiate Large Boat competition, in June 22-24, 1938, off Osterville, Massachusetts, as Brown, MIT, Pennsylvania, and Trinity competed for the first time under a reorganized ICYRA. John F. Kennedy ’40, with a crew of James Rousmaniere ’40 and Edward B. Hutton ’39 sailed one Harvard boat, while P. Loring Reed, Jr. ’40 and the 35th president’s elder borther, Joseph P. Kenndy, Jr. ’38, divided the other skipper assignment. The Crimson topped a 10-college field, heavy with captains later to achieve yachting renown, by 114 ½ points to Dartmouth’s 107 and Williams’ 106 ¼.

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

Harvard athletics may lead to interesting, even thrilling, situations. In 1943, in a secretive building in Washington, D.C., the OSS reviewed my military skills: small boat sailing (Harvard athletics), radio repair (Coast Artillery), Morse Code (18 to 20 words per minute), and a year at the Sorbonne. It was easy to imagine a sailor in a small boat crossing the Channel to report back information for landings on the French coast. The only reason that my bones have not moldered on Utah Beach was the interviewer’s decision that I did not look like a Frenchman and my accent would be a dead giveaway. Sailboat racing stimulates life in general ways. Rules settle all conflicts. Ignorance can disqualify. For example, a boat on a starboard tack has right of way over those on the port tack. Imagine several boats crowding to round a course marker buoy where other boats must give way to the starboard tack boat. The right position at this point can easily win the race – a huge advantage for Promethean foresight. Always approach a marker buoy on the starboard tack. Likewise in life, we try to turn the rules to our advantage. Some Grantor type trusts can pass on funds at low tax cost, for a big advantage to our beneficiary.

Many sailing rules are designed to make races a fair and equal bet. In a series of races, each competitor sails each boat in rotation for a fair chance at the better boats. Likewise, society tries to give each child a fair start in the race of life through universal education and proper medical attention. We all agree with this social goal. But we cannot rotate bodies and brains as we do boats. Indeed, we try to give our own family some special unfair and unequal advantage in spite of our dedication to liberty, equality, and fraternity. Generation Skipping Trusts can make life’s bet unfair. Society even tolerates our ambivalence by allowing us a million-dollar leeway in skip trusts. There are ways to gain an unfair advantage in racing also. Here is a suggestion to future teams: try to find a petite and pretty girl who is eager to handle the spinnaker in races. Notice that lower weight helps in light winds, hull vibration is reduced during work on deck, and a bikini is disconcerting to competing teams. These advantages could win a race.