Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I like Wisconsin, and I love Sheboygan County. There is so much to do here, and our geography makes it possible. We have wonderful people, good culture and nightlife, great fishing, camping, rock climbing, championship golf, beautiful beaches, rivers and hiking trails, NASCAR racing. And now we have World Class Sailing….pretty cool.
Yet in Wisconsin, we spend nearly three months out of the year sailing our boats, and the other nine months thinking about it. To look at it on the more positive side, I guess its one way to learn patience.
My dad started to teach me sailing in Penguins when I was seven years old. We soon moved on to Lightnings. He never became a champion sailor, he was a champion dad. Growing up, our Lightning became a special kind language for me and my dad. It built a wonderful a bond between us that nothing in this world will ever take away.
I remember the first time dad put the tiller under my little arm and said, “Okay son, steer toward the red lighthouse,” and I remember the wonderful feeling of having had is blessing when I kept the boat on course.
Like most coaches, my Dad and coach had a lot of great advice. He would say: “Make your big moves early”; “When the wind goes light, it doesn’t matter if your going the wrong way, just keep moving”; “Be patient with your crew. You need them more than they need you”; “Teach your competition everything you know. It’ll force you to find new ways to get better”; “Don’t yell, it breaks people’s concentration” ; “Fall in love your boat. Wash and wax it, trim and tune it. It’ll psyche you up and your competition out”. And I love this one.....“If you can’t convince ‘em, confuse them” (This one worked great in protest meetings and its worked well in life too).
When I was a kid, all of these little one-liners meant something specific on the race course. Now in a somewhat funny, metaphorical way, they mean just as much in normal daily life. “Work with your weight”; “Get the feel”; and “Be on the line when the gun goes off”; “If you tip over, stay with the boat”; “Check the bailers before you launch”. So all that time I thought he was teaching me about sailing, he was really preparing me for life’s challenges.
I have daughters of my own now, and while they may never get to know Jake as well as I knew him, I’m confident the little one liners that have guided me the last 40 years or so will have some impact on them....whether they choose to put a tiller under their arm or not.
While you’re out there sailing this weekend, give thought to your mentors and all they’ve taught you about sailing and more importantly, life. Sail smart. Sail fair. Remember all those people who along the way have given you what you needed most. Love. A boat. A starting line. A finishing line. And everything inbetween.
. Jake was a man ahead of his time. He grew up on farm in Steven’s Point with aspirations of becoming a cartoonist and one day working for Disney Studios. He left home at 17 to attend the Layton School of Art and Design where he met and eventually married Betty Braasch of Sheboygan, WI. After serving as a paratrooper in WWI!, Jake went to New York City and became a freelance cartoonist for the Saturday Evening Post. He founded Jacobson Advertising in 1957, which grew to be one of the finest advertising agencies in Wisconsin. He was a world traveler and creative visionary who left his mark in everything he touched from Morgan Horses to Haitian Art to Ceramics, Photography, Painting, World-Class Sailing, and Historic Preservation. The original 4 buildings in which his agency resided have been lovingly maintained and now serves as the campus for the Jake’s Cafe Creative Community.