Sunday, November 13, 2016

Johnstone Brothers in Sailing Hall of Fame!

Rod and Bob Johnstone- J/Boats co-founders(Newport, RI)- The Johnstone Brothers, co-founders of J/Boats, enjoy a fortnight of awards!  For starters, Bob and Rod Johnstone were honored the previous weekend with “The American & The Sea Award” at the Mystic Seaport Museum for their contributions to the marine world- an extraordinary honor that has seen only 10 recipients in the past 10 years.  The America and the Sea Award recognizes an individual or organization whose contributions to the history, arts, business or sciences of the sea best exemplify the American spirit and character. Presented annually by Mystic Seaport, the award honors and celebrates those who embrace the scholarship, exploration, adventure, aesthetics, competition, and freedom that the sea inspires.  Here is a highlights video of the Mystic Seaport Museum presentation.

Then, over the Halloween weekend, the National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF) marked its on-going effort to preserve the history of sailing and its effect on American culture as it inducted nine sailing legends for their impact on the sport.  The prestigious St. Francis Yacht Club hosted the sixth annual Induction weekend on October 29 to 30 in San Francisco, CA.  With sailboats seen club racing on San Francisco Bay, from Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz, it visually underscored the link to the sport and its significant contributors who were being honored.

Six living and three posthumously inducted sailors make up the NSHOF Class of 2016: America’s Cup winning helmsman Ed Baird (St. Petersburg, Fla.); legendary sailing champion (Star Worlds, Congressional Cup and America’s Cup) Bill Ficker (Newport Beach, Calif.); husband and wife sail training pioneers, adventurers and authors Irving and Electa “Exy” Johnson (Hadley, Mass.); brothers and J/Boats co-founders, Robert Johnstone (Newport, R.I.) and Rodney Johnstone (Stonington, Conn.), respectively, marketing guru and boat designer; yachtsman and sailmaker Dave Ullman (Newport Beach, Calif.); as well as America’s Cup sailor and Star World Champion Malin Burnham (San Diego, Calif.) and the innovator behind the superyacht The Maltese Falcon, Tom Perkins (Belvedere, Calif.), each of whom was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Beginning with a forum attended by a large contingent of high school sailors, the course of the Induction weekend was navigated by Master of Ceremonies and 2011 Inductee Paul Cayard. The student athletes were interested in what the Inductees did to win and why so many had stayed in the sport so long.

“First, and most important, is to have a good time while you’re doing it and to make sure the people you are doing it with have a good time, otherwise it will be a one-time thing,” said Inductee Rod Johnstone.

Johnstone and his brother Bob were born in Glen Ridge, N.J., and grew up racing out of the Wadawanuck Yacht Club in Stonington, Conn.

When Bob Johnstone helped his parents build a Lightning in the garage of his childhood home at age 13, it was clearly a sign of things to come. He worked as a sailing instructor and raced intercollegiate regattas while studying history at Princeton (class of 1956), before starting a 17-years long career with Quaker Oats, first managing subsidiaries in Colombia and Venezuela, before returning to Chicago where he would become the company’s Marketing Man of the Year.

All the Bob continued to sail in a variety of classes, including a Soling with which he placed sixth in the 1972 Olympic Trials. Bob is the founder of the U.S. Youth Championship and the community boating program SAIL Wilmette.

“What brings me joy in life is sharing that love of sailing and the sea with others,” said Bob Johnstone.

Rod Johnstone also graduated from Princeton (1958), but his career as a yacht designer got its start in the 1960s through a correspondence course he took with Westlawn School of Yacht Design (now the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology).

While working as an ad salesman for Soundings magazine, he, too, built his first sailboat in his garage. It cost him roughly $400 in fiberglass and wood and incorporated rigging and hardware from his brother’s Soling. Ragtime would go on to beat everything she came up against while being sailed by an all-family crew.

In 1977, Bob and Rod founded J Boats Inc., after AMF/Alcort (producer of the Sunfish), which Bob had taken from the red into the black, passed on getting involved in the Johnstone’s new boat. Bob left his position as Vice-President to go into partnership with Rod and Tillotson-Pearson agreed to produce the design on spec in return for the U.S. build rights. They were soon producing the J/24 that has gone on to become the most popular recreational keelboat in the world. Rod’s designs (44 and counting) include 17 that have been named Boat of the Year, received ISAF international class status or recognition in the American Sailboat Hall of Fame. Four decades and 14,000 J/Boats later, the Johnstone’s family business now includes six of their sons in various roles.

J/24 Ragtime launch“I designed the J/24 because of my family. Because I wanted a family sailboat,” said Rod Johnstone. “It all came together because we loved to sail and because sailing together has been a thing for us right from the beginning… I thank everyone who sails our boats, for living the dream for me. Whether I wanted to go around the world or around Cape Horn, all these were dreams I’ve had while designing these boats. There are a lot of our owners who’ve done that. Thank you very much to everybody who has ever sailed a J/Boat and has lived those dreams. I still want to live those dreams and I’ll still keep designing boats.”
Here is a video of the US National Sailing Hall of Fame inductees  For more sailing information on the NSHOF Inductees