About The Crew

Rigney Family 2012

Eric and Leslie fell in love in 1989 and married five years later. Each pursued unusual occupations; she, an opera singer with Los Angeles Opera;  he, a post production executive with Sony Pictures.

Bryce and Trent are active Southern California boys.  Previously involved in scouting, snow-skiing racing, swim team, soccer, piano, and performing arts; they are now focused on surfing, skateboarding, and Kendama.  Favorite down-time activities include video games, video-on-demand, and processed food snacks.

The Rigneys are gambling that adventure time with family will mean more than extended careers, traditional schooling, and living in the same neighborhood . . . knowing their choice will not be easy.

CREW BIOGRAPHIES

ERIC RIGNEY

Eric at Oakland

Eric’s love affair with the sea began at the impressionable age of fourteen when he and his Uncle Bill, sailed to Hawaii and back on a thirty-two foot ferro-cement sailboat that his uncle built in Bill’s backyard. Hot on the heels of that adventure, they set sail for French Polynesia and wound up living among the native inhabitants for eighteen months.

After returning to California, at age nineteen, Eric left again, purchasing a one-way ticket to London and a train ride to Strasbourg.  In time he landed a sailing instructor job with Club Med in Tunisia. Following an extended stay in Paris, he returned to California and wound up in Beverly Hills waiting tables in the finest restaurants while attending university. He has served US presidents and world-renowned celebrities, becoming maitre’d of the Diaghilev Restaurant.

Although a high school drop-out, Eric attended community college before moving on to UCLA to earn a BA in Political Science and Economics and later, a MA in Mass Communication from CSUN. As part of his master’s thesis, Eric captained Uncle Bill’s cement boat back to French Polynesia. There, he caught a glimpse of a culture just prior to its transformation by television and the Internet, inspiring his thesis, “Marquesas: The Initial Cultural Effects of Television.”

LESLIE DENNIS-RIGNEY

Leslie HeadshotWife. Mother. Co-Captain. An accomplished opera singer and musician, Leslie has been singing with the Los Angeles Opera’s Chorus, under the artistic direction of Maestro Placido Domingo, for the past twelve years. Between performances, she earned a PhD in Music from UCLA. Leslie taught voice privately and for the National Children’s Choir. As a vocal soloist, beyond LA Opera, she performed throughout Southern California and in Italy and San Francisco.

While studying International Business and French Literature at UCLA, Leslie gained an appreciation for living abroad when she pursued an internship at the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris.  After graduation, she joined Eric on his graduate thesis sailing expedition in Hawaii and accompanied him as crew on the return voyage to California. Several years later, Leslie and Eric tandem bicycled from Seattle to Los Angeles “for the adventure”.

Growing up in Northern California, Leslie was an avid roller skater, water skier, and snow skier. Travel and adventure have always been a large part of who she is. Her immediate interests revolve around her two sons, Bryce and Trent. She regularly volunteered at their schools, orchestrates fundraising events, and proudly served as Trent’s Cub Scout Den Leader.

BRYCE RIGNEY

Bryce

A talented and confident eighth grader, Bryce combined two of his favorite desserts to create a new pastry—a banana cream pie donut affectionately dubbed “Banana Yum.” Pastry inventions aside, from the time he was five, Bryce has been lead singer of a rock n’ roll kids band.  They won the last two Battle of the Bands at the Hollywood House of Blues—beating out 120+ bands to claim their back-to-back titles. He also landed the lead role in his school musical and recently composed his first original song titled, “What I Gotta Do?” Bryce is an honor-roll student at Cabrillo Middle School where enjoys wood shop.  Last year, he sang at the Rubicon Theater, a lead in the children’s choir,  and with the Ventura District Choir.

Among his athletic talents, Bryce swam competitively on with Westchester’s YMCA Orcas, and actively participated in scouting events. He loves basketball, playing with Ventura YMCA youth league.  Bryce is all about adventure. He’s an excellent snow skier, sailor, and enjoys surfing, body-boarding, and RipStiking. He kayaks in caves, bungee jumps, and especially loves jumping off cliffs into cold water. 

Bryce enjoys video games and making new friends. He’s gifted with entertaining small children and babies. He’s an excellent communicator, writer, and looks forward to “ditching school some day.”  Evidently, the below deck home schooling and boat maintenance parts haven’t quite sunk in yet.  Unlike the rest of the family, Bryce prefers his food plain.

TRENT RIGNEY

Headshot- TrentA happy-go-lucky sixth grader at Cabrillo Middle School, Trent is a highly-coordinated, courageous young athlete. While he may be a couple years younger than his big brother, he more than makes up for it with his fearless approach to life. He’ll try just about anything once and he regularly holds his own with Bryce when they go head-to-head in the pool, on the slopes, in the ocean, and with Kendama (finishing fourth overall in Ventura’s first tournament).

Since he was five, Trent has played the electric guitar alongside Bryce in their kid rock n’ roll band. He once opened for Ziggy Marley and recently won a free recording session with a well-known music producer.

Trent played AYSO soccer and YMCA basketball.  He surfs, RipStiks, snow skis, and swims.

Among his many other skills and interests, Trent possesses superior strategy skills, plays cards and board games like a veteran shark, and adeptly catches on to a video game in one sitting. He’s also an avid dog lover who simply can’t understand why his mean parents won’t let him have a puppy. In their defense, Mom and Dad cite future “lifestyle issues”.

UNCLE BILL

UB at San Miguel v2Eric’s uncle, Bill Kohut, raised Eric and his three younger brothers like sons. A Berkeley mechanical engineer, Uncle Bill taught the boys self-sufficiency and how to repair and maintain just about anything mechanical or otherwise. He set strong examples in the areas of education, making your own opportunities, dreaming outside the box, the power of small steps leading to big achievements, service to others, and avoiding materialism at all cost.

After working all over the world, Uncle Bill left a successful career with a French oil company to build his own blue-water sailboat. He created his own backyard do-it-yourself boatyard, learned shipwright skills along the way, and eventually cruised the Pacific Ocean with his French wife, two daughters, and Eric as his crew. Uncle Bill learned by doing, taught by doing, and occasionally bit off more than he could chew. But he never gave up on himself and he always had Eric’s back. As Eric puts it, “Uncle Bill is the other half of my brain.”

Uncle Bill’s DNA is embedded in every piece of Kandu. He has checked, adjusted, and/or repaired just about every inch of her. You might say that Uncle Bill’s and Kandu’s souls are interwoven like the thread within a sail’s cloth

Photo by Dina Pielaet
Photo by Dina Pielaet

Sailing Kandu Around the World