Eight Bells: Zarko Draganic

Published on March 10th, 2014

A loving husband, father and friend to many, Zarko Draganic passed away unexpectedly on March 6, 2014 at 47 years of age (born 10-1-66). Born in Croatia, Zarko grew up in Toronto, Canada, graduating from the University of Waterloo.

Zarko moved to Palo Alto, CA in the 1990s to work for Apple and attend Stanford where he achieved a Masters degree in Computer Science and Electrical engineering. His successful career in the technology sector also included Nortel and several startups. Zarko is the former CEO of AltoCom Inc., a modem startup he built to profitability, and later sold in 1999 to Broadcom Corp.

This is when Zarko began a more serious sailing agenda. Starting in the J/105, then moving into Farr 40 and Melges 24, all named Cavillino. Most recently, Zarko teamed with Chris Larson at the 2014 Melges 24 Worlds in Australia where they finished fourth.

“The news of Zarko’s passing is a complete shock,” expressed Chris. “We just returned from Australia a few weeks ago, competing in one of his biggest dreams, the Melges 24 World Championships. I think I speak for the rest of the team in saying it was an honor to be able to share that experience with him. Zarko was a fantastic person, great competitor, and true friend. He will be missed immensely.”

When Zarko wasn’t sailing his own boat, he was frequently crewing for Bay Area local Don Jesberg, together winning the Corinthian Division titles at the 2011 Etchells Worlds and the 2013 Melges 24 Worlds.

“We often talked about racing with our Team Viva,” recalled Don, “always discussing that sailing with our friends, who all happened to be amateurs, was the most rewarding part of our adventure. We worked as hard as any other team and enjoyed our successes with the balance of work and family and kept things in perspective.”

Scott Mason was also a member of the Etchells Worlds team. “I have sailed with lots of different personalities over the years, professional and amateur,” said Scott. “Without a doubt, Zarko was the most optimistic and probably the smartest one of the lot. I will miss the puzzled look that would occasionally come across his face while thinking through some tuning algorithm to make our boat faster, the upbeat comments to keep everyone on task throughout a race, and the ‘C’mon boys, let’s go’ words of encouragement in challenging times on the race course. He was a great teammate, husband and father, and I will miss him dearly.”

Zarko, a member of The San Francisco Yacht Club since 2000, was married to Nellie (Penelope) with two children Sam, 14 and Vivi, 8.

Comments and additional information can be found at www.forevermissed.com/zarko

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