With 7500 nautical miles separating Annapolis from New Zealand, it”s remarkable how many sailors from that part of the world end up here on the Chesapeake Bay. Sailmaker Jason Currie is among one of them. The native Tauranga-about two hours south of Auckland-began sailing at the age of three with his dad on a 17-foot trailer-sailer. ” I have really good memories sailing with my dad,” he says. The two of them raced often and won the Ross 780 National Championship a couple of times. Currie raced Optis and P-class dinghies and eventually Laser 2s and 470s. He launched a 470 Olympic campaign for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA, before realizing how expensive it would be to follow through.
Currie”s four-year apprenticeship as a sailmaker is what led him to Annapolis through Quantum Sails, still a fledgling company when he arrived in the States in 1997. “I wanted to travel,” he says. “I was young; I jumped on the opportunity.” It was a three-year contract, but then, he met his wife Cameron. Thirteen years, a wedding ,a child, a house purchase, and a few promotions later, the Quantum service loft manager turned sales representative happily calls Annapolis home.
In the past decade, Currie has competed in a wide variety of boats, including the Reichel-Pugh 52, Swan 45, Farr 40, Farr 30, J/24, J/22 and Laser in various sailing venues-Key West, St. Marten, Newport, and Chicago-as well as in major Chesapeake regattas for big boats and Lasers. Annapolis Race Week has been a lucky regatta for Currie, as he was on the winning Farr 40 Ramrod in 2007, the first-place Sport Boat Problem Child in 2008, and the Farr 40 Endorphin in 2010. He”s also been a team member on the RP 52 Vela Veloce this season for victorious Rolex St. Thomas and U.S. IRC National Championship Regattas and second place finishes at the BVI, Heineken and Caribbean 600 Regattas.
When he”s not racing for work and pleasure, Currie cruises with his wife and daughter McKenzie on an Erickson 30. “I enjoyed sailing so much with my dad as a kid, i love passing on that experience to my daughter,” he says. “Traveling as much as I do for work, it makes me really appreciate spending time with my family.”
Spinsheet: Who are your sailing mentors and buddies?
My dad, Scott Nixon, Joe Gibson, Geoff Ewenson, David Flynn, and the entire Vela Veloce crew.
What is your favorite racing venue in the world?
Tauranga, New Zealand, where I grew up. It”s on the east coast, but it has its own harbor, perfect for dinghy sailing, but with an enterance to the Pacific-you”re 30 minutes from perfect sea breeze and ocean conditions.
Do you have a favorite sailing moment from this season?
I went cruising with my family up the Magothy River for an over-nighter by Gibson Island. Everything was perfect-the weather, the sailing, and just seeing my wife and daughter having a great time.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I”m a fan of Crowded House, Split Enz, and most classic rock. I”ll admit I”m a little bit of an 80″s fan as well!
What television shows do you watch?
When you have kids, you barely have time to watch, but I like Dexter, True Blood, and Boardwalk Empire.
What magazines do you read?
SpinSheet, Seahorse, and This Old House Magazine.
Do you have any non-sailing passions?
I like renovating and updating our 1985 house. I put in a new kitchen and bathroom. Once I start a project , I”m the type of person that has to finish it.
What sailing gear do you depend on?
If a young racing sailor asked you for advice, what would you say?
Stay in school [laughs]! Go sailing-with and against-really good sailors. That”s how you learn. The learning curve gets much steeper when you”re with skilled sailors. Jump at those opportunities.
What are your sailing goals?
I”d like to win a world championship. In the near future, I”d like to do more offshore sailing and learn more about navigation and onboard electronics.