Sailing’s next greatest generation

Published on February 14th, 2023

The sailing greats of the past few decades have either been lost or overlooked, which begs the question of who will be hailed as our modern-day legends. Report by Gary Jobson for Sailing World:

When I recently spoke at a junior sailing regatta, I thought I’d have plenty of stories to regale and inspire these young sailors about the heroes of our sport and the lessons we can learn from their examples. But early into my presentation, I looked across the audience and noticed blank stares when I mentioned a few household sailing names that readers of this magazine would instantly ­recognize. Sensing something wasn’t resonating, I paused and asked them a few questions about a handful of sailing’s legendary and now Hall of Fame sailors.


Not a single one of them had ever heard of Ted Turner or Buddy Melges. It was the same with Dennis Conner and Ted Hood, so I tried my luck with a few more contemporary greats. Mark Reynolds and Paul Foerster? Nope. How about Betsy Alison or Anna Tunnicliffe?

Surely, they would know of Anna. Nope. Blank stares.

I was stunned, and afterward I wondered why, or how, these young sailors didn’t identify with any of these modern-day ­champions. And the more I thought about it, I realized it’s not just our youth sailors that struggle to identify the greats of recent years. It’s adult sailors too. When prompted, my peers will most likely call out the likes of Conner and Paul Cayard or Dawn Riley.

How is that so? Conner’s peak of notoriety was more than three decades ago when he lost and won the America’s Cup and paraded through the streets of New York. But so many other outstanding American sailors since then have had great and inspiring successes, earning their Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman recognition. – Full report

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