In the final month leading up to the ILYA Championships, we will highlight two more sailors who exemplify everything that embodies a true ambassador to the sport of sailing. From crewing to skippering, to travelling cross-country to compete and excel, all for the love of the sport.
Sailor Profile: Chris Jewett
Home Yacht Club: Minnetonka Yacht Club
Class: C, E and A-Scow
How were you introduced to the sport of sailing? What age?
Our neighbors, the Dennis' had a C-Scow and recruited my dad to crew from time to time and eventually they'd let me ride along. We weren't a sailing family at all and the Dennis' coached us along from the start.
I was 8 yrs. old and started sailing school at the Upper Minnetonka Yacht Club. Back then, we didn't have Optis and Prams, so we chartered an X-Boat from the club. With the help of John and Leslie Dennis who were sailing school instructors, I developed a passion for this sport that now spans more than 20 years.
When did you start skippering?
I was 8 yrs. old when I started skippering an X-Boat. I'd usually grab kids from the neighborhood to be my crew. My brother Tony raced with me a lot as well. I won the X-Boat Inlands when I was 15 yrs. old and then moved in to the M-16 class. With a lot of help from John Dennis I was fortunate to win the M-16 Inland my rookie year. In 1993 I started racing C's with Chris Andert and began sailing E's in 1999. In 2006 I began racing the A with Pat Hughes and relinquished my role as skipper for the first time ever.
What motivates you most from year to year?
Without a doubt that it's 100 percent fun and I have the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. The camaraderie of the sport is unlike any other I've been a part of.
Aside from Lake Minnetonka, what is your favorite inland lake to race on? Why?
Okoboji for sure. Why? Mostly because of its close proximity to Minneapolis so I've had the opportunity to sail there a lot over the years. I have so many great memories on that lake. Sure we've posted some great results, but it's really the great people and area that stand out for me. They always put on a top notch, well-organized event.
What is your greatest sailing memory?
Some of my greatest times were racing FJs and 420s collegiately at the U of Hawaii. There was a strong connection to sailing in MN because my coach, Andy Johnson, was from White Bear Lake. I had the opportunity to travel a ton and see amazing places. And we did well -- senior year we won the Pacific Coast Championships on our home waters.
Who has had the most influence on your sailing success?
It's hard to pinpoint just one because truly it has been all of the members and people that sail in the ILYA. That's what different about this organization, it's so generational here which sets an overall unique tone. Andy Johnson, John Dennis, Gordy Bowers, Andy Burdick, the Melges' -- each and everyone of them has played a key role in helping me get better and the entire ILYA get better. That's why the organization has been around for so long. Members share their knowledge so willingly and enthusiastically -- they have to make sure everyone stays involved and we continue to grow the sport we all love.
What are you most looking forward to at the ILYA this summer?
For the ILYA Championships, everyone brings their "A" game. Being here on the home lake and having an opportunity to win AT home would be a dream come true. That's probably the goal of all the locals.
I plan on sailing all three classes C, A and E which is really tough to do. The preparations of when you go to an event is more intense when you travel but there are more distractions when you are at home. Regardless, I'm going to give it my best shot.
What has compelled you to not only compete in ILYA events around the country, but to sponsor numerous ILYA events over the years?
I enjoy the organization and love the sport, so I want to support what has given me so much. The ILYA runs on countless volunteers who donate their time and/or money and I see it as part of the sport and being involved in multiple aspects, not just on the water.
How do you spend your time when you're not sailing?
My wife Sarah and I are chasing three little boys around these days - it's the best thing in the world. All three are under the age of four, so everything takes a backseat to them. Connor, the oldest, wants to be out on the boat all the time, hopefully the others will follow suit.
For more information about the 2011 ILYA Championships, visit http://www.inland2011.org