If you race in the Midwest, there’s a good chance that you already know John Strassman, the PRO on Circle 2 (J/70 Class). Based in Milwaukee, Strassman grew up there spending his formative years as a racing sailor. He’s the current Chair of US Sailing’s Race Management Committee, a US Sailing National Race Officer, World Sailing International Race Officer and an active racing sailor who crams in as much competition as he can, usually as navigator or tactician aboard a couple of nice big boat programs on Lake Michigan.
“My father was an avid sailor,” Strassman explains. “So, I was born in May and was literally sailing a month later. I grew up loving sailing and I still do. I sailed as a tyke with my family. I did the local junior programs and junior regattas and then sailed collegiately at Northwestern and later at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. After that, I campaigned a 470 for five years.”
Strassman explains that love, marriage and grad school took him away from sailing for a time – as did his 20-year career as a manufacturing executive. After raising a family and building a career, he retired early and made his way back to the sport.
“I got back into the sport as a junior sailing program director and coach,” he says. “One regatta led to another and pretty soon I was a US Sailing National Race Officer running regattas in a lot of different venues. Last year, I was involved with the race management of three international or world championship events, four North American or US championships, plus I was the PRO for the J/70 Class at Sperry Charleston Race Week. It was definitely a busy year.”
Strassman says the coolest RC gig he had in 2016 was serving on the mark set boat for the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series in Chicago in June. “I wish I had more time to sail, but occasionally I have to come home and mow the grass.”
Despite his vast experience, Strassman says he loves coming to Sperry Charleston Race Week “because it has a great energy and the town is fabulous. Look me up if you’re there this year. I love having a beer and chatting on the beach with competitors.”