Man who changed sailing to speak

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Sailing always has been about freedom. There is a feeling that comes over people as they watch land disappear. No one can touch you out there, it seems -- only Mother Nature.

Since Gary Jobson began sailing as a 6-year-old, that sense of independence hasn't changed. But the sport has, he said.

Sailing has gone from a summer activity to a full-time professional sport. The stakes have gone up.

"I look at it with wide eyes," Jobson said. "I remember my first America's Cup where we didn't get paid anything, and now racers are making real paychecks.

"It has been fun to be part of the transition."

Jobson is to sailing what Billy Kidd is to skiing. Not only is he a world-class sailor and one-time champion of the America's Cup, he also is an advocate of the sport. Jobson covered the 2003 America's Cup in New Zealand and the 2004 Sailing Olympics for NBC in Athens. He is the author of several books, instructional and otherwise, about the sport of sailing.

But one of his most important accomplishments is the All Jobson Juniors All-Star list.

"The key element for the growth of sailing is nurturing the passion in our young people," he said. Jobson keeps a database of 400 kids, ages 13 to 17. He charts their progress throughout the year and names the top young sailors at the end of each season.

"I hear from kids all the time that it made a difference," Jobson said.

Jobson will give a presentation about his sailing adventures Sunday as part of a fund-raiser for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

He has been coming to Steamboat for years to ski with his family, but this is the first time he will be speaking in town.

"I'm thrilled to death to do it," he said. "There are two places I like to vacation -- Steamboat and Maine. I'm also psyched to have Billy Kidd in the audience. I grew up watching him on TV. He's a hero of mine."

Jobson is not charging for his presentation -- one he gives all over the world.

He will talk about the Olympics and America's Cup as well as show footage from his trip to Antarctica. He took the extreme sailing trip with climber Alex Lowe.

"I was going to show him sailing, and he was going to show me climbing," Jobson said. "It was this great juxtaposition of land and sea. I have some wonderful stuff of him ice climbing."

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210 or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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