Sailor of the Week: September 9-15
Greg Fisher, one of the most accomplished competitive sailors of all-time, has had his sights set on returning to collegiate sailing for quite some time. This vision became a reality, as Greg rece ntly accepted the position of director of sailing at the College of Charleston. Greg will be tasked with growing the College of Charleston collegiate sailing program, while also expanding other waterfront activities including city-oriented learn-to-sail programs. Greg will also be responsible for fundraising efforts on behalf of the College of Charleston Sailing Association.
The former college sailing All-American has captured 21 North American or National Championships in seven different classes including the Lightning, Thistle, and Flying Scot. A past J/22 World Champion, he recently won the J/22 North American Championship on Aug. 21 in Buffalo, N.Y.
During his college sailing days, the Columbus, Ohio native captained the sailing team at Ohio Wesleyan University before transferring to Miami (Ohio) University to sail with his brother, Matt. Greg earned All-American honors at Ohio Wesleyan in 1975. After graduating from college, Greg got involved with sailmaking right away and opened his own loft company, Fisher Sails in 1986. In 1991 Greg joined the team at North Sails where he has spent the last 19 years. Greg has been perfecting his craft as a sail-maker for nearly 35 years.
US SAILING caught up with Greg recently to discuss his sailing career, especially his transition to college sailing:
US SAILING: Tell us why you decided to return to college sailing? What about this position attracts you?
Greg Fisher: I am one of those very fortunate people who truly enjoy their work and look forward to it nearly every day. I certainly have had a great time racing and it's been a huge thrill. As my career matured I found what turned me on more and more was watching and helping other people sail faster and enjoy the sport as I have. It was almost 10 years ago I told my wife that I'd love to finish out my career helping coach a collegiate team. When the director of sailing position at the College of Charleston became available it was an unbelievable opportunity. The C of C is a great school for college racing for many reasons - they have passionate coaches, a meticulous dock master, a tremendous facility, and an enthused group of talented sailors. They win a bunch for sure, but they also seem to appreciate the experience of college racing, and sailing, first and foremost. Though I'm looking forward to helping coach where I can and am needed, my focus is to help grow their already strong program. It's a perfect fit and I couldn't be more excited.
I am excited to be involved with collegiate sailing again. That time was, for sure, my greatest time of growth in my sailing career. Not only did my abilities jump simply because we were sailing so much against so many talented sailors, but the friendships developed during those times were special and still represent some of my best friends today.
US SAILING: What are some the events/opportunities that you are most looking forward to?
Greg Fisher: Frankly, I can't wait to immerse myself in my new job. There's been some exciting brainstorming amongst the gang there already and I'm looking forward to being involved. One day when time allows I'll probably do a bit more of my own sailing, all one-design of course, and hopefully some more coaching. In the meantime, personally I'd like to see my wife have the opportunity to do more of her own sailing (she loves match racing) as well as my kids. My five year old is ripe for sailing and I hope she learns to love it too.
US SAILING: When did you start sailing and on what type of boat? What was your motivation?
Greg Fisher: My father introduced my brother and I to the sport at a very young age. I think we started crewing for him in his Lightning when we were 4 and 6 years old. He was extra careful not to press us too hard in the beginning, but what was special, and hooked us both forever on the sport, was how he gave up his own sailing for 15 years so he could haul us around to regattas in our own boats. I look back now and truly appreciate how supportive he was.
Sailing plays a major role in most of my family's lives and it is such a tremendous common denominator for us. Probably one of my biggest thrills was to win the J/22 North Americans this summer with my wife Jo Ann, my daughter Martha and my teammate of 27 years, Jeff Eiber. I rarely sail without Jo Ann on the boat and she is a super sailor in her own right. There's no question that sharing this all with them means more to me these days than winning itself. Our five year old daughter has only missed traveling with us to one regatta this whole summer.
US SAILING: What do you enjoy most about sailing?
Greg Fisher: Obviously mastering the sport is not easy and I really wonder if it's ever accomplished. There are so many challenges that need to be handled and practiced - from team work and boat handling, to being a mechanic and tweaking the boat to sail fast, to quick reactions in tight tactical situations, to pondering chess-like strategic moves and considering the big picture.
The people side of the sport is also special. Few sports can boast that relative novices often race on the same course with the professionals and sometimes even beat them. Socially everyone is considered equal, and in most classes there are major efforts to maintain that sense of equality. I enjoy the fact that good sportsmanship is such an important part of our racing and the only accepted norm. People who don't demonstrate the accepted integrity are the only ones who don't seem to last long in the sport.