Sailing’s Mr. Everything
Race champion, author, editor, television commentator, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, fund-raiser, cancer survivor, grandfather: Is
there any title that doesn’t apply to Gary
Jobson, especially if the word “sailing”
comes before it? Even “ambassador” isn’t
too grand a term to describe this man’s
influence on the sport.
Born in 1950, Jobson has been
involved with every America’s Cup
since 1977, when he was the winning
tactician on Ted Turner’s Courageous.
He was a collegiate sailing star and
has won many one-design championships and ocean races, including the
infamous 1979 Fastnet. He’s helped
bring sailing to television, working
with ESPN and other channels toward
coverage that balances the need to
attract more casual viewers with the
need to retain the core audience: racing sailors. He’s also worked to make
Olympic sailing more television-friendly, to help the sport remain part
of future Games. More recently, he
added a new title to an already long
and impressive list: vice president
of World Sailing (formerly the
International Sailing Federation).
In 2003, just after the America’s
Cup moved from New Zealand to
Switzerland and while he was helping build the Leukemia Cup into a
national series of successful fund-raising regattas, Jobson himself was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Suddenly, it was he who needed to
take advantage of the advancements
his Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
regattas had helped fund. He credits
writing about past victories and finishing his book Championship Sailing – as
well as visits from friends and “sources”
– with helping him through the two
years of aggressive treatments that
finally sent his cancer into remission.
By 2005, the voice of sailing returned
to the lecture circuit, cancer-free.
In 2009, the Leukemia Cup began
awarding a new trophy, which names
the top fund-raising yacht club for
each year of the event. It’s called
the Jobson Cup.
“People ask me: Did sailing save your life? In many ways, it did.
When you’re in a storm in the middle of the ocean and your
sails are torn and your crew is seasick, you simply keep on
going. Sailing taught me a lot about overcoming adversity.”
To see the photos and read the fascinating profiles of all 50 of our “
Leaders & Legends,” visit this story online.
Jobson has been
Ted Turner’s yacht
the deadly 1979
Cup winner, and
ESPN and NBC.