The Washington Post recently published a story on former Hobart College sailor and 2012 U.S. Olympian Trevor Moore ’07 who was lost at sea on June 25, 2015.
Moore was living in Coconut Grove, Fla., with his fiancé, Libby Patton, and was working as a sailing coach. Moore took his boat out on Biscayne Bay and never returned. The boat was found later that day without him in it. The Coast Guard searched the ocean for two days, while family, friends and volunteers continued the search for five more days.
“Water was his thing,” Patton told the Washington Post. “That’s where he felt good, where he was himself. If he ever needed time for himself or needed to escape, he’d go on the boat.”
Moore, who began sailing when he was 7 years old, qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 49er class. While fighting through a shoulder injury, he and his teammate Erik Storck finished 15th out of 20 entries.
At HWS, Moore was a three-time All-American, helping the Colleges win the 2005 ICSA Team Race National Championship and the 2005 ICSA Dinghy National Championship. Two years later, he capped his collegiate career by winning the Everett B. Morris Trophy as the College Sailor of the Year. He is the only HWS sailor to win the Morris Trophy and the only sailor to be named the Francis L. “Babe” Kraus ’24 Memorial Award winner as Hobart’s Senior Athlete of the Year.
“In the end, this whole experience-being a part of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, being at the Olympic Games and representing the USA and all of the people that are behind us-it’s been an unbelievable experience,” Moore said following the Olympics.
At the 2016 Block H Dinner, the Hobart sailing MVP award was renamed the Trevor Oakley Moore ’07 Memorial Award.
The complete Washington Post article is available below.
The Washington Post
Olympian Trevor Moore ’07 loved the water; it’s where he was last seen
Rick Maese • July 31, 2016
The morning Trevor Moore disappeared started like so many others. He had a way of cramming as much into every day as possible. He had just returned a few days earlier from the Virgin Islands, where he was teaching young sailors how to navigate the water. Moore, 30, was uniquely qualified and understood sailing better than most. He was a member of the U.S. Olympic sailing team at the 2012 Summer Games less than three years earlier.
As usual, Moore had no intentions of sleeping in on the morning of June 25, 2015. He and his fiancee, Libby Patton, had dinner with friends the night before. Moore had just finished spray-painting his bike. He had several house projects in the works.
“Trevor really knew how to take advantage of every day,” Patton said. “He never wanted to sleep. He was always busy doing something.”
Patton left the couple’s home in Coconut Grove, Fla., around 9 a.m. for a volunteer shift at a local animal shelter. Moore told her he was going to head out on his boat for a bit but he would be back later.
“And that was it,” Patton said. “He just didn’t come back.”
Moore spent a lifetime on the water. A social butterfly with a magnetic personality, he didn’t have many bad days, and those who know him best say the water was where he was happiest. He was a world-class sailor who had a knack for reading the wind patterns and ripples in the water. That morning Moore set out on the familiar Biscayne Bay. His boat was found hours later, but Moore wasn’t in it.
His death was a tragedy and a mystery, his life remarkable and inspiring. Water kept him afloat during the best times of times and later engulfed family, friends and the sailing world in grief and pain.
“The more time you spend around the water, you learn to love and respect the powers of the ocean. I think for all of us, something happened, and we’ll never know what,” said Scott Ikle, Moore’s college sailing coach. “Everybody will always wonder, but I think people – watermen, sailors – respect the ocean because you know it gives you such a great joy. At the same time, it can take things away from you. It took Trevor.”
A passion and a transition
Moore had been sailing Biscayne Bay since he was a child. It was among his favorite places in the world. His family moved to Naples, Fla., in 1994, and Moore began sailing when he was 7.
“It was a natural talent for him at the beginning,” said his father, John Moore. “He was a pretty good chess player out there, always two or three steps ahead of everybody else on the different tacks and wind shifts.”
Moore’s mother, Wendy, died in 1997 after a long cancer battle, and the family moved to Pomfret, Vt., where Moore built a pond on the family’s farm, excavating a giant hole and moving the earth to create his own outdoor sanctuary. The family called it Trevor’s Pond.
His older brother and sister were off on their own at that point, so Moore and his father leaned on each other.
“It was really a friendship. They look the same, same mannerisms, eat the same things,” said Brian Clancy, Moore’s best friend who first met the family in first grade. “They were just really close.”Even when his son was much older, John Moore had the same parental concerns as those early days when a stiff breeze would carry his boy away from the docks.
Over the years, they would talk on the phone every couple days, always ending the same way: “Love you, dad.” “Love you, too, Trev.” When Moore followed in his father’s footsteps and got his pilot’s license, John Moore followed his son’s first flight from New England to Florida with online tracking to make sure it went okay.
“I guess as a father, you always worry that something could happen,” he said.
Trevor went to college at Hobart, where he helped the sailing team win a national championship as a sophomore and was named the country’s best college sailor as a senior in 2007. He began competing in a sailboat called a 49er, a two-man high-performance skiff built for speed and short-course racing. The 49er is like a high-speed sports car, usually traveling anywhere from 10 to 25 knots (17-28 mph).
The two sailors onboard are tethered to the boat and spend much of the race airborne, bopping up and down as the boat flies along the water.
“You’re standing on your tippy toes, and the boat is only four inches wide where you’re standing,” Trevor Moore explained to the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., in 2012. “So when you get air, it’s like landing a jumbo jet on an aircraft carrier trying to figure out where you’re going to put your feet when you come down. It’s a high-pace, high-adrenaline sport.”
He was paired with a sailor named Erik Storck, and the two were Olympic favorites for most of the 2012 season, racing a boat that Moore named Wendy, after his mother.
“I can’t even explain to you what emotions and what it really means to be representing the United States,” Moore told WPTZ-TV before the London Olympics. “You’re no longer representing yourself.”
Moore injured his shoulder shortly before the 2012 Games, and the duo struggled to post consistent results sailing on Weymouth Bay, located about 120 miles from London on England’s southern coast. They finished 15th out of 20 teams. Moore was proud to have reached the Summer Games but disappointed with the result. His attention immediately reset to the 2016 Games in Rio.
“I think Trevor probably thought he was going to go to more than one Olympics,” Ikle said.
Back in Florida a few months later, a friend urged him to meet a pretty, young nursing student, and the two attended a Miami Heat game together. Moore didn’t mention a word about the Olympics – “He was very humble,” Patton said – and sailing barely came up at all. The two took an instant liking to each other. “It was his personality,” she recalled, “how comfortable he was with himself.”
“He was really smitten by her from the beginning,” Clancy said. “He called me right away after they hung out, and there’s no doubt he had a twinkle in his eye.”
Moore wasn’t having as much luck finding a teammate for his 2016 Olympic quest. After a couple of partners fell through, Moore began to accept that the Rio Olympics just weren’t going to happen for him.
Less than two years after competing in London, Moore sold his boat and began refocusing his life.
He was never going to leave the water – “It’s a great mistress; you keep going back because we’re just drawn to it,” Clancy explained – but there was a lot more Moore hoped to do. He was really enjoying coaching young sailors and had found someone with whom he could settle down.
“He wanted to get a house, coach sailing, be a part of the community,” Patton said. “It was really impressive how easily he transitioned.”
Moore would often take Patton and their dog, Charlie, onto his motorboat, outfitting the boxer in a small life jacket. They loved the sunsets especially. In March 2015, the three zipped through the bay and Moore killed the engine. The sun lit up the Florida sky as he proposed.
Moore was eager to plan the wedding. They selected a venue in Naples and had a couple of dates picked out. Moore called Clancy and asked him to be his best man.
‘Water was his thing’
It wasn’t unusual for Moore to head out on the boat alone. He enjoyed fishing for tuna, checking on a couple of crab traps or just basking in the solitude of the bay.
“Water was his thing,” Patton said. “That’s where he felt good, where he was himself. If he ever needed time for himself or needed to escape, he’d go on the boat.”
In June 2015, he set out alone in his motorboat – the same 17½ -foot inflatable boat on which he had proposed barely three months earlier. It was a Thursday. The temperature was in the 80s. There was no rain in the forecast and just a slight breeze blowing most of the day.
Around 5 p.m., the boat was discovered tangled in some moorings near Dinner Key Marina, less than a half-mile from Moore’s departure point six hours earlier. The boat was still in gear, and inside were his life jacket and other belongings.
From South Florida to New England, phones began to light up. Patton called Moore’s father to explain that the boat was found but Moore was missing.
“I was just thinking to myself, ‘I hope he’s okay; they’ll find him,’ ” John Moore said.
When Clancy heard, he instinctively called Moore’s phone and left a message. “I didn’t think for a second he was truly missing,” he said. Clancy figured his friend was 6 feet 2, 185 pounds, athletic and resourceful. “If anyone could make it a night or two nights in the mangroves, it’d be him,” he said.
Investigators immediately studied the boat’s GPS data and discovered that Moore’s boat had left the U.S. Sailing Club and headed south, traveling between 12 and 15 knots, reaching Soldier Key about 11 miles away. At some point the boat made a sharp U-turn, its speed slowed to around two knots and the 30-year-old captain had apparently vanished. According to the GPS data, the boat zigzagged its way back toward Coconut Grove, ending up almost exactly where it left.
“The chances of that are between none and never,” said Officer Lorenzo Veloz, a spokesman for Florida Fish and Wildlife and one of the responding officers that day. “Think about it: How can you be miles in the ocean and the boat takes a sharp turn and somehow ends up all the way back at the same point? The odds of that happening – you’ll never do that. The wind, the current, the tide, the other vessels in the area moving the water around. It’s just very weird.”
Friends and family were stunned. Moore was a world-class sailor, the last person anyone expected to struggle with a leisurely day on the water. “It would be impossible to describe the shock,” said Dave Hughes, his Olympic coach. “It was like I had been evacuated from my mind, like everything just stopped.”
Investigators created a grid surrounding the boat’s route.
The search covered more than 510 nautical miles, but after 48 hours, the official search was called off. Family and friends stayed on the water for five more days, scouring the shoreline and re-tracing Moore’s path for any clues. But the young sailor was nowhere to be found. They were left with memories, speculation and a huge, dark hole.
The family held a memorial service in Vermont two months later and then another service in Florida earlier this year. Not far from the family’s farm, there’s a headstone for Moore at a local cemetery, even though his body was never found. His father recently established the Trevor Moore Foundation, aimed at helping underprivileged young sailors. John Moore often visits Trevor’s Pond to feel closer to his son.
“I was at peace with him being at sea, quite frankly because that was his love,” he says. “It would be nice to know what happened. Maybe when I get to heaven, if that’s the next stop, maybe I’ll find out then.”
Patton still lives in the same Coconut Grove home with Charlie, their pet boxer.
More than a year has passed since they last saw Moore, four years since he competed in the Olympics and proudly walked in the Opening Ceremonies. Friends and family cling to their memories.
“I don’t hate the boat. I don’t hate the water,” Patton says. “I think that the water is beautiful and that Trevor is there and it’s okay that that’s where he’s going to stay. That’s where Trevor was Trevor, where he was most comfortable.”