Sailor of the Week: Sept. 17-23
Dave Johnson has been sailing competitively since he was 8 years
old. Raised on Gull Lake near Richland, Mich., he grew up racing with
his father on weekends. Sailing in numerous junior events, Dave took to
one-design racing, sailing in his first International 210 National
Championship at age 12 in Gloucester, Mass.
Dave took over the local Gull Lake Yacht Club sailing program for two years, and took great pride in teaching and encouraging sailors of all levels, from learn-to-sail to competitive racing. His two sailing mentors - his father Dave Johnson, Sr. and Max Doolittle, instilled a work ethic that put an emphasis on never quitting and always pursuing a passion. Dave has kept to those lessons in everything he has done in life.
In college he sailed for Western Michigan University, taking the team to its first ever ICSA ranking. He also served on the Midwest College Sailing Association Student Board as race chairman and vice-commodore, while serving as vice-president and then president of his University Sports Club Council. He then transferred to St. Mary's College of Maryland where he continued competing at the highest collegiate level. Through his college years, he coached at his local club, worked at a sail loft, and coached at J-World Annapolis while racing on many one-design boats. His first NOOD Regatta win was sailing on the J-35 Mr. Bill's Wild Ride in the summer of 1998. He has enjoyed racing in many classes such as the Snipe, Laser, Lightning, and J-Class.
Dave never forgot about his 210 experiences as a youth and was determined to return to the class. In 2002 he gathered two friends to compete in the 210 nationals in Falmouth, Mass. After dominating the event with five-first place finishes, his team took their first National Championship in the class. After successfully defending their title in 2003 at South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee, Wis., the team went their separate ways. Dave continued his success in the class, winning the McKee Trophy, Quincy Yacht Club Challenge Cup and Last Chance Regatta (twice). He crewed from 2004 to 2008 with friends, winning another national championship in 2006 with friend, Ryan Staszko.
Moving away from the east coast, Dave traveled to Texas where he took up match racing. He finished third in 2007 with Jon Singsen at U.S. Match Racing Championship. He also raced on the J-105 team Rum At Six based out of North Carolina in 2007. After winning his second NOOD event, Dave took a break from sailing to further his career.
Last month, Dave returned from Texas, newly married to Katharine, both now residing in Pawtucket, R.I. He also returned to the 210 class, skippering his first event in three years with Butch Milan and Lenny Walsh from Boston Harbor Yacht Club in South Boston. The last day of racing had five boats within seven points of first with two races scheduled. Dave and crew finished first and third to win the class nationals, giving Johnson his fourth national championship.
Giving back to the sport and sharing his knowledge has always been a priority for Dave. “Whether it is talking about sailing, giving my time to help someone on their boat, or supporting college sailing, any of these examples are fun for me,” said Dave.
“This sport has great camaraderie between competitors,” added Dave. “Not only is it social, it is out in the biggest playground on Earth: water.”