Viewing Blog

View All Blogs | View Blogs by Terri Parrow Botsford | View Blogs in Membership News

Tags for A Members Olympic Dream, 40 Yrs in the Making

Olympic  Sailing  Star Class  Qingdao China  John Dane  Austin Sperry  

<- Previous Blog by Terri Parrow Botsford | Next Blog by Terri Parrow Botsford ->

A Members Olympic Dream, 40 Yrs in the Making

By Terri Parrow Botsford - Published August 19, 2008 - Viewed 4086 times

BoatUS Member is a ‘Star’ Olympic Sailor

Anyone following the Olympic sailing regatta now entering Week 2 in Qingdao, China, has probably heard of John Dane. At 58, he’s been making headlines as the oldest competitor among the thousands of athletes competing in the 29th Olympic Games. He is also a BoatUS Member, having joined the Association in 2003.

Dane, of Gulfport, MS, is racing in the Star class and his crewmate is his son-in-law, Austin Sperry. Over the weekend, after 4 races, they were in top form, reaching first place on Saturday, but had a bad outing on Monday, finishing 15th in race 5. With five more races to go and a final on Thursday, anything can happen.

Dane is living every middle-aged sailor’s dream but is no stranger to Olympic sailing competition. He sailed in his first Olympic Trials in 1968, finishing second, and has tried to qualify for the team five times since, finally winning the 2007 trials and qualifying for the team. He’s raced in the Soling, Finn, and Dragon classes before finding a winning combination with Sperry, whom he met when the younger man was dating his daughter, in the Star class. After 40 years of trying, he finally got his Olympic berth. The only downside has been his continually being mistaken for a coach, not an athlete, by Olympic staff.

Also appearing in a feature on NBC Nightly News over the weekend, Dane’s already a champion among his company’s employees. His New Orleans mega-yacht boatbuilding plant was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, so Dane rebuilt the operation in Gulfport and moved hundreds of his employees to the new location, even providing trailers and cash to those who were temporarily homeless.

Veteran sailing commentator Gary Jobson spoke of John Dane in his Olympics blog on Saturday, 8/16:

 

“Over on the Star course John Dane and his crew, son-in-law Austin Sperry, demonstrated that they are very competitive.   After three weird, wind-challenged races the duo stands in first place. This is a strong performance for a skipper who is 24 years older than the average age of the rest of the sailors in his class. Every team here is using a coach, but Dane had a different approach leading up to this regatta. He told me, "We have used two coaches over the past year." The first is Hans Wallen from , a silver medalist in 1996 in the Star, who worked with Dane and Sperry on tactics and boat handling. The other was Rodney Hagebois whose focus, according to Dane, was taking care of the boat, equipment and sail inventory. You are only allowed one coach at the Games. Since the equipment was set, Hans is the solo coach here in Qingdao. Using multiple coaches is unique and may become a future trend.

Of course, three races doth a regatta not make, but the early indication is that John Dane, after 40 years of trying to get into the Olympics, is giving it his best shot. It is a powerful example of what a long term commitment can achieve.”

Way to go John! 

Terri Parrow Botsford
Vice President
BoatUS Internet Operations



Terri Parrow Botsford
VP BoatUS
Internet Operations

Blog Comments

There are 0 blog comments.

Sorry there are no blog comments.

Post Blog Comments
Message:

Sorry but you must be logged in to submit comments.