The following is the January APS Chesapeake Racer Profile, a monthly hi-light in Spinsheet Magazine (written by Molly Winans): The speed at which Jay Kehoe answers questions tips you off that he grew up right across the river from New York in Perth Amboy, NJ. At the age of eight, Kehoe started in a Chevron and Shell Oil-sponsored city sailing program on Dyer Dhow 12.5s. His grandfather, the only other sailor in the family, built him a pram, and for ten years, he competed on Lasers and Blue Jays in junior events and youth championships, as well as gaining tremendous big boat experience, such as sailing with Dennis Connor on Seymour Senet’s Williwaw and doing such races as the Vineyard Race.
After High School, kehoe enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG); two of his four years were spent as assistant head sailing coach of the USCG Academy in New London, CT. When he finished his duties, he then worked for North Sails in Milford, CT, before moving to sunnier climes to coach sailing for three years at the St. Petersburg YC in St. Petersburg, FL, where he met his wife Amy Gross.
In his 20 years of professional coaching, Kehoe has created educational programs for Sunfish/Laser and done stints with the sailing teams at Yale University, the U.S Merchant Academy, and Stanford University (seven years). For two and a half years, he has been the waterfront director of Annapolis YC (AYC).
One of Kehoe’s goals at AYC has been “to elevate the junior program and skill levels from competing locally to nationally.” He’s achieved it by bringing I-420’s into the club and getting junior sailors to highly competitive regattas, including a world championship, beyond the Bay. At home, he feels it’s important “to give kidsan experience they don’t get in a normal yachtclub program-not just racers, but all sailors will have the best experience possible.” Bringing boardsailing to AYC and better educating the coaches “to impart their love of the sport” are a couple of ways he’s worked towards his goals.
Last fall, Kehoe won the 2010 U.S. Sailing National Developmental Coach of the Year, an award his wife, Amy, a former SpinSheet staffer and Gunston Day School head coach and waterfront director, had won in 2000.
When the duo is not coaching, they love to take their seven-year-old daughter Merrick out to explore the creeks around Annapolis in theri powerboat Tinsley, “an eBay special,” says Jay. “It looks like the S.S. Minnow.”
Spinsheet: When was the last time you fell overboard?
I’ve never fallen overboard, but I fell off a kayak once.
What’s your best crash story?
I was teaching a class at Stanford, and the electronics went out. I went down below to start the engine, and the student driver hit a buoy in the bay and knocked a hole in the boat. It worked out well, because the insurance paid for a new paint job.
Who are your favorite people to sail with?
Chris Larson, Senet Bischoff, Dave Askew and Kevin McNeill.
Keelboat or Dinghy? Why?
Keelboat, I’m too big for dinghies. Gravity has taken its toll.
What are your favorite all-time movies?
Caddyshack and Animal House
If you took a road trip, what playlist would you listen to?
I set my iPod Genius playlist to James Taylor.
What television shows do you enjoy?
Lawyer shows-Boston Legal was my favorite. Dirty Jobs and Myth-Busters.
If you had a t-shirt with your own one-liner on it, what would it say?
“Bad Air,” on the back! We wanted to do that on the butts of our shorts at Stanford, but it didn’t go over well.
What three items of sailing gear you have that you could not live without?
What is the most common mistake that junior sailors make?
They let their parents rig their boats. Then, they don’t learn how to rig a boat.
What is the most common mistake sailing parents make?
They push their kids into being overly competitive. It’s the parents who live vicariously through their kids who chase them away from the sport. The parents’ job is to facilitate their kids’ learning. When they do it well, their kids sail for the rest of their lives.
With all of your coaching, do you find time to sail?
Yes. I sail on Etchells. I’ve also sailed recently on a J/22, a Farr 40, and a Melges 24.
If money were no object, what kind of boat would you buy?
I’d buy a gunboat so that we could home-school Merrick and cruise the world.
What is your favorite place on the Bay?
I love the creeks, It’s amazing how much water Annapolis is surrounded by. You’re always seeing new things.