On Watch - Judy Gibbs

Judy GibbsCurrently serving as Rear Commodore of the Eastern Connecticut Sailing Association (ECSA), Judy Gibbs is an accomplished racer, a race committee veteran, a tireless and exemplary volunteer, and a strong advocate for the advancement of the sport.

“I grew up in Joppa, Maryland on the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay, but my first sailing experience was on my honeymoon in 1964, when my husband Bob and I sailed a little dinghy,” says Judy, who lives in Mystic, Connecticut. “We didn’t start sailing actively until 1980, when our son Brian was seven. Our first boat was a Catalina 30.”

“We joined the Thames Yacht Club in 1988. We had just started gaining an interest in racing, and we bought an old IOR racing boat. Everyone at the club wanted to encourage us to race because we had the boat for it, and Kenny Brent, who was Rear Commodore at the time, really urged us to get out and race, and he was quite free with advice. We were actively club racing by 1989, and we did one long overnight race and the Governor’s Regatta. Those were both ECSA races, and we started out big because we won both of them! We have had a series of successful boats, and I actively raced from 1989 to 2002, on our boats and others. I did 40 races in 1993, mostly on other peoples’ boats.”

“Thames Yacht Club is a special place because everybody’s willing to help everybody, it’s very friendly to outsiders, and the friends we’ve made there over the last 25 years have become our family,” says Judy, who has served as the club’s Vice Commodore and Commodore and is one of its ‘go-to’ people on the subject of the Racing Rules of Sailing. “I’ve been doing race committee at Thames and other places since 1991. Dick Roberts and Cal Brouwer were my mentors. Cal did race committee for 50 years! I’ve been involved with ECSA’s Race Management training for years, and I enjoy it. I think every sailor should spend at least one day on a race committee boat – it’s a wonderful way to learn.”

“I’ve been on the present ECSA board for six years, although I had been on the board in the late ‘90s and worked my way up to Vice Commodore. I stopped before I became Commodore, because I was involved in four other sailing organizations at the time. I was on the board at Thames and on the Off Soundings Club race committee, and I was helping the US Sailing Area B Race Officer and with New London Community Boating.”

In fact, Judy is a co-founder of New London Community Boating, an organization dedicated to offering sailing lessons free of charge to New London children, providing opportunities to develop self-confidence, cooperation, communication, and leadership skills in all participants. “After hearing Paul Risseeuw [ECSA’s Junior Sailing Chair from 1992 until his passing in 2015] talk at an ECSA meeting in 1999, my friend Katie Bradford and I decided to see if we could do something for the inner city kids in New London. Katie got her mother, Carolyn Leuze, and Beth Robinson, who had a company called 2B Sailing, and I was Treasurer, and we started out that first year with cocktail parties to raise money for scholarships. It was a new experience for the kids, many of whom didn’t know that they had access to the water. One of our premises was to enlighten them and further their education so that they could get jobs on the water if they like it.”

Judy’s also a member of the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association. “I’m a Certified Race Officer,” she says, “and last year they invited me to run their Donzo Wednesday Night Series because of their Certified Race Officers were going to Block Island Race Week. I’m on the Off Soundings Race Committee and I’ve done Race Committee at Race Week, and now that we’ve moved to Mystic I’m going to get more involved with running Mudhead races. Racing is huge to me because of all the people I know.”

“I am very proud of my at least 10 years on the Hospice Regatta committee for The Center for Hospice Care,” says Judy. “I was chairman for about five years, and it was the biggest fundraiser the Center had every year. The regatta is now known as the Mudhead Benefit Cup for the Center for Hospice Care. “The event has really taken off, and the Mudheads have done a great job! I may be involved this year, depending on what Bob and I do for cruising.”

Judy and Bob presently own a Nonsuch 33, Cringle. “We bought her mainly to cruise,” she explains, “although Off Soundings has a Nonsuch class and Bob and our son Brian decided to race. They got second overall for the year in 2012 and ‘13, and they won in 2014 and ’15. In 2012, we cruised to Maine for the month of August. Some of the highlights were going through the Cape Cod Canal and stopping at one of our favorite places, Scituate, Massachusetts, and we enjoyed the lobster boat and tugboat races in Portland, Maine. One boat had a Corvette car body, and another had an old Ford van body. We cruised as far as Boothbay, and it was just a great trip.”

“In the fall of 2013, Bob and three fellows sailed Cringle to Baltimore. I got on the boat there, and we went to Key Largo, Florida, mostly on the Intracoastal although we did some sailing outside. We stayed in Key Largo for a month with two other boats from Thames Yacht Club, and I did race committee for the Force 5 Midwinters, which was really fun. On the way back, we stopped in Baltimore for a week to attend my 50th high school reunion. We’re planning to do it again next year.”

“I like the freedom of sailing,” Judy enthuses, “but what really turns me on is the challenge when the weather gets bad. I enjoy every minute of it!”

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.