Position: Vice President
Hometown: Alameda, CA
Education: Attended UMASS Amherst, Community College of the Air Force, Monterey Peninsula College and San Jose State University.
- Why do you want to be a member of US Sailing’s Board of Directors?
I believe sailing is one of the most beneficial sports/outdoor activities to the development of youth and the health of families in the U.S. Sharing nature, building self-reliance and ingenuity in the family children, sharing the navigation and seamanship traditions that are part of what we do all situate sailing uniquely among almost all other outdoor sports or activities. Because of this, I want to grow sailing in the U.S. to the levels enjoyed by many other first-world countries. I believe we have a compelling activity that suffers a lack of popularity due to American cultural norms and the history of yachting in the 19th and 20th centuries. If this is seen by most Americans as a middle-class family activity, we can double sailing’s participation numbers in 20 years, galvanize the sailing industry, and get our kids to become lifelong sailors. This growth will improve US Sailing, membership/sponsorship, and more medals for our Olympic Team. I believe my goals above are shared by many others and I believe I can best contribute to them by being a board member.
- How can community sailing centers, yacht clubs and other sailing organizations collaborate with each other more on key initiatives to grow sailing?
These organizations have evolved organically over the decades to fill the needs of
the sport and its enthusiasts. They each bring something unique. As the key
entry point for youth and adults who are new to sailing, Community Sailing
Centers’ (CSC) public access model can be used to strengthen membership
rolls at private clubs around the country. Private clubs have experienced sailors
and volunteers who are ready to give back to the sport. Formal, close
partnerships between CSCs and YCs have sprung up around the country. Our
one-design classes, our marine vendors and sponsors can nd big increases in
their market bases by joining these public access/private collaborations. First,
there needs to be a national commitment to the synergies that are possible and
US Sailing can use its communication channels to raise awareness of successful
eort already underway that can serve as models to inspire local leaders to get
their eyes out of their own ‘boats’, look around and build partnerships and
- How can these organizations and other sailing industries integrate with their local communities to provide more awareness for prospective new sailors?
I think the better question is: how do we collaborate to make sailing less scary and seem less elitist? Firstly, call it as it is: Sailing requires a level of immersion for a new sailor to fall in love. Either multiple enjoyable exposures with a friend or family member or many hours of formal training. Ensure the message we send doesn’t dumb down sailing but emphasizes that proper introduction to sailing is a joyful experience and is easier and more accessible than most people think. This message can be codified by the marketing experts in the industry and distributed by US Sailing, local sailing organizations, and industry. Fishing has done a good job of ‘demystifying’ fishing without dumbing it down.
- What can US Sailing do to help facilitate these partnerships?
US Sailing is in a unique position of knowledge about the industry and knowledge about the entry points for sailing that it governs and supports. We need to get industry, private club, racing class, and public access sailing program leaders together with the express purpose of ideation of at least two messages:
- Learning to sail from professionals is the quickest, most dependable path to a lifetime relationship with the sport, whether youth or adult. (learning from family/friends works as well, it is just slower)
- We want everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability, orientation, to have the chance to enjoy sailing and feel welcomed and at home.
- How has US Sailing’s programs and services impacted your overall sailing experience?
I started racing sailboats in 1985. I pored over the RRS to ensure that I could be a good citizen out there, but also to learn my rights. Dave Perry’s landmark book, ‘Understanding the Racing Rules’ gave me the confidence that I knew them and knew how to use them. Myriad well-trained Race Officials have made my days on the course a true joy. With virtually no exception, well-trained race committees ensured that they weren’t the story at the club, post-race. US Sailing’s Keelboat Certification System was the single biggest influence on my sailing school becoming one of the most rigorous and successful heavy weather schools in the country. High standards, transparent ladders of achievement, and dedicated support staff. While it is a small service compared to some at US Sailing, it has been one of the most professionally and effectively executed services in our sport. A close second to our success at OCSC Sailing has been the National Sailing Programs Symposium. It is the most intensive and information-rich event on the calendar for sail trainers, coaches, and public access leaders, providing best practices to the close to 3000 public and private sail training organizations in the US.
- Is it important for sailors to be members of US Sailing?
If you sail, you are benefiting from US Sailing’s hard work and service to the sport. Whether you cruise (Keelboat Training, Safety at Sea) or race (Race Official training and certification) or aspire to represent the US internationally (Olympic Department) or want your children to learn independence, resiliency, good citizenship, problem-solving skills (REACH, Siebel, Small Boat Instructor, and Coach Training) your experience is made better by US Sailing. And, guess what? a Regular membership comes with REAL benefits. If you are sailing, you will use these benefits virtually every year. And, the savings adds up to much more than a regular membership. But, still, support the organization that provides structure and service so you and your family and friends can enjoy it more and do it more safely.
- 34 years as managing partner of OCSC Sailing, a commercial sailing school and club
- 4 years Vice President, Alameda Community Sailing Center
- 15 years on Commercial Sailing Committee
- 18 years as chair of Training Committee
- 15 years on NSPS Agenda Planning Working Party
- Three separate stints on the US Sailing Board of Directors
- 2 years as Vice President of US Sailing
- 2 years on Compensation Committee
- 2 years on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, 1 year as chair.
- 1998 Season Champion J24 Fleet 19
- 1996 5th place J24 District 20 Championships
- 2017, 2018 Regatta Chair and RC member Opti Heavy Weather Championships
- 1985-Present – Led over 20 international charter flotillas in Asia, Pacific, Caribbean, Med
- 2015-2019 -Tactician/Coach J111s, Express 37
- 2016 – Coach, IP37 cruise SF-Cabo
I bring a passion for building and strengthening the sport by introducing more youth and adults to the sport. I believe sailing is stronger if it is more diverse and I have been working for 40 years to make it more inclusive and equitable for women and other underrepresented groups. I believe deeply in the power of the Olympic Ideal to inspire and am working hard to make our effort one to be proud of. My experience as a business owner has allowed me to be useful in driving fiscal discipline and smart business practices into the organization. I bring a deep understanding of the value of sail training and education in the growth and strength of the sport.
Contact Richard Jepsen