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Sailor Spotlight on Gerard Sheridan
Sailor. Racer. ERC Chair. Photographer. These words all describe member Gerard Sheridan who has been at the helm of the Executive Race Committee all of 2019. Learn about some of Gerard's goals for the ERC, his personal sailing background, and what he thinks about when he's behind the lens.

Sailor Spotlight: 
Gerard Sheridan

By Jennifer Dunbar

Where and when did you learn to sail?
Dun Laoghaire Harbor and Dublin Bay in Ireland.

Congratulations on racing in Kiel Week #138 in Germany in June! Tell us about it.
This was a special reunion for me and Karsten Mau, skipper and owner of the Santa Cruz, Equity Kicker. I’ve known Karsten since 1997 when I raced on his Baltic 37 out of South Beach. In 2009, he returned to Germany after several decades abroad and sailed his boat home in stages, mostly short-handed. During his time in the States, Karsten shared many victories with us aboard my boat, Tupelo Honey, the sweetest of which was our first Rolex Big Boat Series win in 2006. Even after moving back to Germany, he returned each year for RBBS until 2011. Tragically, he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage at the end of day 1 of that RBBS. He spent three months in CPMC before returning home. I’m happy to report he’s made a full recovery, but it's been a painstaking journey. I’ll never forget the day we called the ambulance from the docks. Life can change in an instant—so go sailing.

Did you pick up any ideas from Kiel Week that we could apply to our race program?
It’s hard to compare; it would be as if we compressed our entire year-long race program (and then some) into two weeks! The facility is enormous because it was built for the 1972 Olympics. Over two weeks of sailing, they welcome 23 classes of boats, 400+ volunteers and 400,000+ visiting sailors from around the world. Kiel itself sees upwards of 3 million visitors. The organizing authority consists of three clubs, so they have a wide pool to pull in the required people and resources. I’ve never seen anything on this scale associated with sailing.

Are you racing in this year’s RBBS on your beautiful Elan 40 Tupelo Honey? What is special about the boat to you?
I’ve owned Tupelo Honey since 2004 and my first RBBS was in 2005. I’ll be on the start line this year along with my boat partner James Mullarney. The Elan 40 is a great boat and it’s been good to us over the years with two RBBS and many other regatta wins. It’s easy to sail and she’s set up nicely for racing or cruising. Racing in the Rolex Big Boat Series is something we all look forward to each year.

In addition to your racing-related passions we are often graced with your photography. What inspires you?
I’ve been shooting for over 30 years and I’m always in pursuit of that one image that has the “wow” factor. I’ve come close a few times but it’s a continuous journey. I’ve evolved from doing landscapes and cityscapes to portrait photography with my new in-home studio. I’m really enjoying this aspect of my work: making people look their best or in a way they don’t necessarily see themselves. Delighting your subject—that to me is a challenge!

As chair of ERC, what are your goals?
To continue to evolve and remain relevant to our members and to Bay Area sailors. To engage and attract people to racing. To build out our Race Committee training and development program, which we’re releasing in Q4 of this year.

Shortly we’ll be starting our 2020 program planning and also starting work on a five-year plan aligned with our overall goals as a club. 

There’s no magic formula to doing this—only listening to and working with all of the race-oriented stakeholders in the Club, and building consensus around new ideas and solutions.

I’m really impressed by the commitment, hard work and enthusiasm of my fellow ERC members and our Race Office. It’s a pleasure to work with them all.
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