Last night, TV producer/commentator and former America’s Cup tactician Gary Jobson spoke at Seattle Yacht Club about the recently concluded edition of the America’s Cup. As the on the water commentator he had a front-row seat (next to Race Director Iain Murray) for the races. Jobson’s appearance was a fundraiser for The Sailing Foundation, sponsored by the Pacific International Yachting Association and Seattle Yacht Club.
Jobson is a prolific speaker, but for the most part it’s to larger crowds. This was a relatively intimate gathering of approximately 100 people. Jobson, always approachable and engaging, is even more so in a small event. He is just as comfortable in the wise observer role as he is in his on-air sailing cheerleader role. If you ever get the chance to see Jobson in that kind of situation, do so.
The anecdotes from the current Cup, past Cups and racing in general were non-stop, but here were some of the more memorable bits and pieces.
Reaching starts were Jobson’s idea and he had to talk Russell Coutts into adopting them.
Jobson tossed out to Stan Honey and his graphics geniuses the idea of displaying the disturbed air onscreen for viewers. They made it happen.
New Zealand tactician Ray Davies had the wrong time on his watch during the race where the time limit expired, and thought they’d be able to finish.
The entire production cost and airtime for the 34th America’s Cup was paid for by Larry Ellison. The America’s Cup organizers also paid for Ken Read to be one of the commentators. Jobson and Todd Harris were paid by NBC.
The day before coming to Seattle, Jobson was in San Francisco to interview Sir Ben Ainslee.
Before that, he spent several days hanging out with his old skipper, Ted Turner, at Turner’s Montana ranch. There were great conversations, fly fishing and assorted other distractions. One of the topics was of an old crewmate of theirs who was in hospice care on the East Coast. When Turner suggested they visit him, Jobson pointed out the distance. Turner called up his jet and they were there in a matter of hours. When Jobson spoke of that trip, and a few other memories, the respect and fondness he still has for Turner were crystal clear.
When Jobson first signed on with ESPN (still his employer) he called two people. The first was Ted Turner. The second was Walter Cronkite. Cronkite (a sailor) was such a close colleague and mentor to Jobson that some years later he offered to narrate Jobson’s production on the history of the America’s Cup. It was Cronkite’s last project.