Eight Bells: Judy Clagett McLennan

Judy McLennan
Photo © Dan Nerney

Juliette Clagett McLennan (Portsmouth, RI) the co-founder and president of the non-profit organization Clagett Sailing, died on November 15. 

In 2003, Judy and her daughter Stephanie founded Clagett Sailing in memory of her father, C. Thomas “Tom” Clagett, Jr. The organization provides opportunities for sailors living with disabilities to learn, race and win, and to experience Paralympic-level coaching and sailing competition. 

Clagett Sailing’s mission is “to assist sailors in realizing their potential on the water by providing them both the knowledge and tools to improve their skills and the opportunity to use these skills in competition.” The organization has adopted Tom Clagett’s motto of “Reach for Success,” which resonates with every Clagett sailor. 

“My mother was an avid sailor, and her positive impact on the sport, especially for people living with disabilities, will be felt for decades to come,” said Stephanie McLennan. “The legacy that she leaves is one of camaraderie and inclusion that will live on in the work that Clagett Sailing will continue to accomplish in her memory.” 

Under Judy’s leadership, the first few annual clinics and regattas grew into a widely respected sailing organization, including a second yearly match racing event in Oyster Bay, NY. The Clagett Clinic and Regatta has also served multiple times at the host of the US Para Sailing Championship. 

In 2022, Clagett Sailing marked the 20th anniversary of the Clagett Newport regatta. Sailors who have trained at the Clagett have earned medals at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Paralympic Games. 

Judy was repeatedly recognized for her support and leadership by US Sailing. In 2003 she and Stephanie were awarded the US Sailing President’s Award for their support and facilitation of the Junior Women’s Singlehanded and Doublehanded Championships. Judy was awarded the Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy in 2018 by the Para Sailing Committee for her outstanding contributions to the sport of adaptive sailing, and she received a second President’s Award in 2023 in recognition of Clagett Sailing’s exceptional support of the para sailing community. Judy was also a member of the Para Sailing Committee for eight years. 

Accepting the Gay S. Lynn Trophy in 2018, Judy challenged the audience: “I challenge each of you to open up your yacht clubs and your sailing programs to include sailors with adaptive needs. Sailing opportunities need to be expanded. In order for the U.S. to continue on the road to medals in Paralympic sailing and other top levels of competition, these sailors must have opportunities to learn and to race.” 

Presenting the President’s Award at the Clagett Regatta last June, US Sailing CEO Alan Ostfield said, “Beyond serving on US Sailing’s Para Sailing Committee and impacting the sport overall, Judy helped found, in honor of her father, what is now Clagett Sailing and the driver of this wonderful regatta, now over 20 years old. This terrific regatta… has been a steppingstone for sailors aspiring to compete at the highest levels of international competition. US Sailing is proud to support our great para sailors to go to The Hague and we are so grateful for Judy’s and the Clagett’s support to make that happen.” 

Judy was a member of New York Yacht Club, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the Newport Yacht Club, and the Tred Avon Yacht Club.