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On Watch - Jeremy Wilmot

A native of Sydney, Australia, Jeremy Wilmot has an impressive sailing resumé, including a world championship in an ultra-competitive one-design class. Now living in Newport, RI and Norwalk, CT and a member of the Sales Team at North Sails in Milford, CT, Jeremy enjoys sharing his expertise with clients.

Jeremy Wilmot“My first boat was a Manly Junior, and I did my first state championship when I was five,” says Jeremy, 26, who won several national titles as a junior. “My dad, Jamie Wilmot, is a two-time Olympian in the Flying Dutchman and my brother Nathan is a two-time Olympian and a gold medalist in the 470. My uncle Hugh Treharne was the tactician on Australia II and my uncle Bob Wilmot is a two-time Olympian and a multi-world champion. They guided my career early on, and I had a pretty unique situation. My dad was sailing on one of the first IRC 50s, Heaven Can Wait. I got to steer her at a young age, so I had a leg up in big boat sailing.” 

Jeremy earned a degree in Economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “The choice [in Australia] had always been to sail or go to college, and I had no intention of living in America,” he explains. “I’d started doing an Olympic campaign in the 470 with my brother as my training partner. I was 18 years old when I first got over here, and decided to do the pro sailing circuit with my dad. I checked out a couple colleges and found out that you can sail and go to school here…it was the perfect fit for me.”

Although Jeremy was on the St. Mary’s Varsity Sailing Team, other opportunities were too good to pass up. During his sophomore year, he skippered the late Roy Disney’s TP 52 Morning Light in the 2007 Transpacific Yacht Race and appeared in the documentary film Morning Light. He was also tactician on Pieter Taselaar’s Melges 32 Bliksem [New York, NY]. “We won the 32 Worlds my junior year, although I was missing three to four weeks a semester,” he recalls. “Adam Werblow, our Head Coach, knew I couldn’t do college sailing and tactics on a Melges 32 and still pass school, so he looked after me.” “Other coaches have really helped me along the way. Before Morning Light, Steve Benjamin [Fireball and 5O5 World Champion, Olympic 470 silver medalist, Bermuda Race winner and a member of the North Sails Connecticut Team] helped me prepare for what I would face in the Transpac. Robbie Haines [multiple world champion, Olympic Soling gold medalist and Morning LightTeam Manager] was a personal mentor – he made me into a person who can organize a team.”

“I heard about Morning Light on the dock at Newport Shipyard. Someone wrote the web address on my hand, and I got my application in six hours before the deadline! Thirty of us were selected to go to Long Beach, CA for a week of trials. The 30 got cut to 15, and there was a 6-month training period in Hawaii where the 15 went down to 11. We picked four members – Charlie Enright, Piet Van Os and Genny Tulloch and me – who could potentially be skipper, and after an overnight practice session I was selected. The coaches threw me into a ‘swim or drown’ situation. I did not think I’d be able to do it, but they put the pressure on.”

“We all felt like we were Roy Disney’s kids. Whenever we needed inspiration or motivation, he knew exactly what to say. We lived in a house right at the finish line at “R2” at Diamond Head, and crossing that line as a team was the best feeling I’ve ever had in sailing. Even though we didn’t win, it felt like a great success. Roy pretty much brought a family together, and being a part of his last endeavor touches me every day.”

“My next endeavor was with Bliksem on the Melges 32 circuit. The 32 was recognized by the ISAF (International Sailing Federation) in 2009, and we found out there would be a World Championship that year. It was hard work and we didn’t expect to win the Worlds, but our team came together quickly.”

As tactician on Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Bora Gulari's Melges 24Jeremy was part of the winning team at the 2011 National Championship and Quantum Key West 2012. “I’d heard about this American who was giving it to the Aussies in the Moth. George Peet was on Bliksem, and he and Bora are good friends. I got to know Bora, and brought my Moth to America. I kept asking, ‘When are you going to let me come for a sail on your 24?’ We tested at the Nationals and he and I clicked straight away. Our preparation for Key West was pretty intense. Two North designers, Andreas Josenhans and Vince Brun, worked with us for four days and got us up to speed. When we got to the start line the first day, everything was flowing.”

“Big boat racing in America is pretty similar to Australia, but youth sailing is radically different," says Jeremy. "Down there it’s all high speed, adrenalin rush sailing: you sail Moths during the week, 16-foot skiffs on Saturdays and 18-foot skiffs on Sundays. In 2010 and ’11, I did my 18-footer rookie season on Appliances Online’s Pirate Ship. Up here, sailing is extremely tactical and that’s helped me the most. I learned how to go fast in Australia. Here, I’ve had to push myself tactically.”

“My ultimate goal is to put together a team and win the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup,” Jeremy enthuses. “Working with North Sails is really fun because I get out there with so many different crews. I learn from them and I hope they learn from me. It’s uplifting, and also relaxing. Before, I had the feeling that everyone at every yacht club was my competitor. Now, everyone’s a friend.”


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