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Get to Know: Race Director, Jenn Lancaster
Race Director Jenn Lancaster joined StFYC from Newport Harbor Yacht Club on July 1, right in the heart of racing season. Get to know more about her background in Clubs and on the water, as well as her hopes for the future in this position.



Mainsheet: Tell us about your how you got into sailing.
Jenn Lancaster: My father was in the military, so I grew up all over. We lived in San Diego, then Florida, then New Hampshire/Maine (the Navy base is on an island on a river between the two states). We always had a sailboat so I learned how to sail pretty young, but we never really raced competitively.  Then, one year we hosted the Naval Academy Sailing Team for a 4th of July dinner. It was Maine, so it was still freezing in July, and they all wore really cool jackets. I told my dad I wanted one and he said, “You have to learn how to sail!” So, I did. Years later, I went to college at UNH and saw an ad for the sailing team. I joined, picked up racing pretty quickly, eventually became team captain…and we got cool jackets! 

MS: What did you study in college?
Jenn:
I majored in Communications with a concentration in American Revolutionary War Rhetoric. It sounds nerdy, but I love the study of rhetoric. I use it all the time, and I’m always thinking about how a situation can change based on the rhetoric you apply to it, even in race management.

MS: After graduating, where did you go?
Jenn: Those sailing jackets weren’t just a one-off thing. I was always interested in fashion design and my life hit a big fork after college. I had to decide between a career in fashion design or…sailing. I had worked one summer at Community Boating on the Charles River in Boston. I loved everyone I worked with and, unbeknownst to me, there was a connection between my boss and some of the members at Newport Harbor Yacht Club. When NHYC posted an ad for a Racing Director, my Community Boating boss sent it my way and I applied. That became my career for 16 years.

MS: What was the heart of the racing program at NHYC?
Jenn:
Our membership. There was a mentality of “all for one, one for all.” There was strong camaraderie that I know will live on past my tenure. They are building a new clubhouse and I’m excited to see them grow.

MS: You started at StFYC on July 1, and must have hit the ground running, as that was (and is) the heart of our racing season. Tell us about a day-in-the-life for you?
Jenn: Right now, I’m focusing on learning the systems in place and absorbing everything I can from the membership. I’m doing a lot of listening. I’m starting to implement some of my own management practices and organizational touches. Here’s an example: in 2017, sailing had a big Rules change, so while many of our documents would typically roll over year to year, I’m going through every document and doing a pretty big overhaul.

MS: What do you like about your job?
Jenn:
I’m passionate about sailing and about yacht clubs. I love that I get to come and work here every day. People used to tell me, “You’re doing a great job, Jenn!” and I would say, “It’s because I have a great job.” If someone asks me what I do, I say that I’m a “steward of people’s recreational time.” This is where people choose to spend their time, and that’s important. I take it pretty seriously.

MS: What are you looking forward to?
Jenn:
Getting to know the job better, and implementing some of my lessons-learned into my department; getting to know the membership and their diversity of skillsets and backgrounds; carving out my place as a hard worker and also a cheerleader; reminding people that we’re here because we love sailing.

MS: What do you do when you’re not at work?
Jenn:
I really like taking walks, cooking, and gardening. I feel most at peace when I’m outside in the fresh air and the sunshine. MS: What’s going on in your own sailing life? Jenn: I recently purchased a Harbor 20 in Newport Beach, which I love, but I had to leave it there as it’s really meant to be sailed in a safe harbor. It was the perfect boat because, at 20ft, you could race it with two people or cocktail cruise it around the harbor with six friends. I love team racing and match racing, but it’s pretty hard to make my work schedule allow for sailing.

MS: Your dream vacation destination?
Jenn: I would love to go to Japan because I think it’s the most different from where I live—it’s the place that would most make me feel like a fish out of water. I appreciate decorum, and I feel like Japan has plenty of it.  


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