The Price of Victory

“The sailing community lost a true giant when Brad Robinson died in 2015. He was a retired Twin Cities businessman who brought an engineer’s mind to the sport of competitive sailing, long contributing his time, talents and funds to make sailing better for everyone,” says Tom Burton, Robinson’s former skipper and friend. “This book finally sets the record straight about Brad and his story.”



Though innovation that elevates the playing field is usually welcome in competitive sports, The Price of Victory and the Fear of Innovation exposes how a group of sailors rejected innovation to suppress competition in the sport of A Scow racing.

The Price of Victory tells Robinson’s story: how he wanted to advance the world of competitive sailing by building a better A Scow sailboat – as a gift to the Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) – only to be vilified by members of the fleet he was trying to help. 

Robinson designed and built his A Scow sailboat, Victory, according to the rules of the ILYA. But when some members of the Inland A Fleet saw his Victory project as a threat to one boat builder’s monopoly on the building of A Scows, they changed the rules and refused to sail with his boat. The battle carried on for years, ending in a lawsuit.

After having his A Scow design rejected, Robinson then launched a new, faster class of scows in 2007 – the carbon fiber V38. Robinson asked Linda Tedford of Lilja Press to write The Price of Victory to shed light on his experience of having his most significant innovations rejected and to share his story with those both in and outside of the sailing community.

“It's my hope that we'll be able to once again bring innovation into scow sailing for the next generation of sailors and competitors,” said Robinson prior to his death. 

Not since “Born to Win,” John Bertrand’s account of his lifelong efforts to innovate boat designs that eventually changed the outcome of America’s Cup, have I read a well written story of sailing history with so much intrigue. All through Linda Tedford’s book, the historical records clearly show that the Melges syndicate wholeheartedly incorporated years of Brad Robinson’s ingenious scow engineering improvements. In 1993, Buddy Melges, who is the only A-scow builder, predicted, “If the A-fleet were to remain status quo and one design...the A boat would be doomed.” However, because of his strong ego he influenced the fleet in an unsportsmanlike spirit to accept the antiquated status quo and reject ‘Victory’ and ‘InnoVation’. Sadly the ILYA, NCASA, and Melges ostracized Brad, the very man who played by the rules and contributed so freely his time, talent, good intentions and resources to bring the A-scow class to the next level. Let’s hope that Robinson’s legacy will inspire future generations of ILYA leaders to see the light and allow fleets of awe-inspiring V38’s to sail our inland lakes.

Tedford’s wonderful prose and the magnificent passion with which Brad Robinson pursued his dream kept me turning pages. “The Price of Victory and the Fear of Innovation” belongs in the pantheon of great sailing literature!
— Terry Kerber, co-author of Major Taylor: The Inspiring Story of a Black Cyclist and the Men Who Helped Him Achieve Worldwide Fame
It’s beyond me how the author distilled such an intertwined story into bite-sized chunks, somehow managing to call it like they saw it without harshly trash-talking their adversaries. Some stern words, but respectful. Wow, that says more than anything else about Brad and Susana.

The history and background about Brad and his sailing through the decades makes a great slice of history we all should know about. A great work.
— Dallas Johnson, friend of Brad and Susana Robinson
I wanted to send you a note thanking you for the signed copy of your book, the Johanson clan appreciates it. We appreciated your note recognizing our role in the LMSS over our tenure on Lake Minnetonka. Mary and I started an A fleet on Torch Lake recently, and will host the nationals next year. There are many rigging issues I’ve noticed with A boats since starting the fleet, and I have now become engrossed in your book and story. Hmm ... I seem to remember that Brad Robinson addressed a few of these things with his redesigned boat. After reading a bit, I find out that is exactly what you did! Why on earth have these advancements not gotten to the fleet??

I kept track of all that happened with Victory from afar, but it was not until I read your book that I got a clear idea of how it all played out. So I guess I am writing to tell you:

-I enjoyed your book.
-I am blown away by what happened among my beloved sailing community around Victory.
-And that as a newbie to the A fleet, I understand what you were trying to do!
— Pete Johanson, fellow sailor