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Lions' last man sails in Beer Can

Ramzee Robinson, Mr. Irrelevant XXXII, takes his act to sailing in a regatta on the fourth day of Irrelevant Week.

June 22, 2007|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

NEWPORT BEACH — Hold up, hold up. Don't sail away. Someone is missing.

Ramzee Robinson needed to know the whereabouts of his Irrelevant Week date, his uncle, Majin Childress.

"Where is he?" Robinson asked everyone onboard the Amante, a 48-foot Choate departing from Balboa Yacht Club Thursday evening.

"Over there!" yelled a member of the nine-man crew.

OK. The big man from Huntsville, Ala., stood proud on a power boat nearby.

As for Mr. Irrelevant XXXII, the last player selected in the 2007 NFL Draft, he was placed on the 25-year-old sailboat owned by the Richley family. He later got to steer the Amante as honorary skipper.

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How fast can this puppy go during the Beer Can Regatta?

Fifteen to 21 knots is considered fast for the Amante. The former University of Alabama defensive back looked alarmed. Someone asked if he was scared because Robinson tightened up.

Remember this is the same 23-year-old who admits he can't swim.

"I played in front of 100,000 fans, man," he answered. "I am never scared."

Worry? Well, the Detroit Lions, who own one of the worst records in the NFL over the last six years, drafted him.

But before the race, featuring a dozen boats, started, the skipper asked everyone to shut up. It's typical protocol before the race to be quiet, so Robinson followed that up by hushing everyone still yakking, gaining himself respect amongst his crew members.

Buddy Richley, owner of the Amante with his two brothers, Steve and Tim, steered the heavy boat to the starting line.

There isn't really such a thing, but if this were a 100-meter sprint, the Amante took off way after the sound of the horn.

Catching up to the other boats looked questionable. Robinson still asked, not knowing the boat's competition.

"A bunch of newer, faster boats out there," Steve said. "We still have a lot left."

Not in the gas, because the Amante was sailing. When kayakers sped past the Amante, things looked bleak for Robinson and the crew.

Robinson never let up during the one-hour ride. He turned the winch handles, which direct the sails, as hard as his arms allowed, using one arm every time. Others used two.

The effort knocked back Larry McCook, a former University of Alabama football player attending the regatta just to meet Robinson.

McCook, a 1963 graduate who played for legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, forgave Robinson with a "Roll Tide!"

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