There may be no one else who has dedicated his or her life to promoting the virtues of the sport of sailing with more commitment and devotion than legendary sailor and educator Gary Jobson.
Jobson’s loyalty to sailing has earned him the prestigious Nathaniel G. Herreshoff Trophy, which is regarded as the sport’s most prestigious award, and he has been ESPN’s correspondent for all of the sports channel’s sailing-related broadcasts over the past 20 years, including the Olympics and the America’s Cup.
On Saturday, February 11th, Jobson will be in Marina del Rey for a speaking engagement at the California Yacht Club, where he will talk of his extensive travels, and weigh in on the sport that he has been involved with for so long.
His visit is open to the public and begins at 2:30 p.m. at the club on 4469 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey.
“I woke up at the end of this past summer and thought, ‘I’ve just completed my 50th year in sailing.’ I’m 55 and started when I was six,” said Jobson.
As Ted Turner’s tactician in the team’s America’s Cup winning campaign aboard Courageous, a young Jobson made a name for himself as a formidable sailor with a sharp mind and positive attitude.
He worked with Turner for years through the 1970s and the two formed a friendship that lasts until this day.
“Getting to sail with Ted Turner was very special,” recalls Jobson. “He’s a guy that’s extremely loyal to the people around him — and the people around him are extremely loyal back.
“He was a very good sailor and probably much better than most people think he was.
“This was a guy that was Yachtsman of the Year four times — 1970, 1973, 1977 and 1979.
“So when you talk about Joe Montana being the Super Bowl king of the ’80s, for example, nobody has been Yachtsman of the Year four times — not Dennis Conner, Buddy Melges — nobody’s been able to do that.
“He also dominated in a lot of different mediums: America’s Cup, match racing, ocean racing, big storms and small boat sailing.”
Jobson was also part of the winning team aboard Ted Turner’s Tenacious during the infamous 1979 Fastnet Challenge where 15 sailors died in the horrific conditions they faced. The race was monumental in how safety was treated in the sport of open ocean racing.
“I’m glad to have gone through that storm,” Jobson reflects. “It’s still in my mind.
“It’s important to understand what 65 knots and 35-foot seas really mean. A very good thing came out of that Fastnet race and that is that ocean racing became safer.”
In the 1990s, in addition to his many other obligations, Jobson became involved in raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through sailing programs.
In 2003, the cancer society said of Jobson’s involvement in the organization:
“Until now, Gary’s motivation for supporting the Society had no personal or family connection to blood cancers.
“However, before he traveled to Auckland, New Zealand to cover the America’s Cup for ESPN, Gary developed a cough and fatigue.
“These symptoms persisted through his cross-country lecture tour, and it became difficult for Gary to maintain his usual busy schedule.” Sadly, in this odd twist of fate, Jobson became afflicted with lymphoma and fought the disease.
Today, he is back to his rigorous schedule of up to 90 personal appearances a year, productions for ESPN and of course, numerous racing-related events. He is a staunch advocate for junior sailing and optimistic about the sport he so dearly loves.
“I see a kind of renewed spirit around the yacht clubs, which is a very encouraging sign,” Jobson said. “I’m also encouraged these days about the Olympics. It looks like the pure part of the sport — it’s nationalistic and it’s a nice clean competition. So I see a lot of this young talent that we have will likely gravitate to the various Olympic classes and they’ll represent us very well.”