Gary Jobson: Superstar of sailing visits Lewes

With little fanfare, one of the greats in the sport of sailing paid a short visit to Lewes.

Gary Jobson, who sailed America’s Cup five times and won in 1977, was producing and filming a promotional video for the Hobie Cat 16 class during the North American Championships at Lewes Yacht Club.

The highlight of the event was a sold-out Sept. 24 presentation by Jobson to the fleet and yacht club members.

Jobson, who was on Ted Turner’s sailing crew during the 1970s, has been an ESPN sailing commentator since 1985 and has covered nine America’s Cup events. He also has covered Olympic sailing and will be in Brazil in 2016.

He’s written more than 15 sailing books and won two Emmys. His long resume includes most of sailing’s most prestigious awards including induction into America’s Cup Hall of Fame and National Sailing Hall of Fame. As owner of Jobson Sailing Inc., he is also editor-at-large for “Sailing World” and “Cruising World.” Over the past 35 years he has given more than 2,000 lectures throughout the world. He started his career as a sailing coach at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy.

The event also featured Jobson’s newest production – a documentary on the tragic 1979 Fastnet race. The film will be shown at various film festivals and will eventually air on ESPN.

Jobson was on the crew of Ted Turner’s Tenacious during the 605-mile Fastnet race in August 1979 when a horrific storm developed in the waters around Great Britain. It blew for 22 hours, and the yachts were no match for 35-foot waves and more than 60-knot winds. Of the 306 boats that started the race, only 86 finished, and Turner’s Tenacious emerged victorious in a race that would see 18 people die including 15 sailors and three rescuers. About 4,000 people were involved in the rescue operation during one of the worst sailing disasters in history.

Jobson’s said by far the most exciting and inspiring sailing event he’s covered was the 2013 America’s Cup. As the only journalist on the water in San Francisco Bay, he had a ringside seat to watch the United States team come back to win the cup after going down 8-1 to New Zealand.

New Zealand had to win one race to claim the cup while the U.S. team had to win eight straight races. Jobson said he was struck when during a press conference the U.S. team skipper Jimmy Spithill, who was actually from Australia, said that the team was not done yet.

As it turned out, the impossible occurred and Oracle Team USA did beat New Zealand 9-8. “This was the biggest comeback in any sport in history,” Jobson said. “And how cool that is was in sailing.”

Jobson also had the rare opportunity to sail on both the Oracle boat the Emirates Team New Zealand boat.

Jobson sails the world

Jobson, of Annapolis, Md., is also the National Regatta Chairman of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s sailing program, having survived lymphoma himself.

He’s spent most of his life on the water; he says he competed in 2,000 races during one four-year period. Jobson is also an active cruising sailor, having led expeditions to the Arctic, Antarctica and Cape Horn.

Jobson said sailing has been such an important part of his life that he missed out on a significant event in history. He said as an 18-year-old growing up in New Jersey, one of his friends who operated an ice cream truck asked him to accompany him to a rock concert to make some money.

He was also entered in a regatta during the time of the concert. “I had a decision to make and chose sailing,” he said. “The concert I missed – it was Woodstock.”



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