The following is the January APS Chesapeake Racer Profile, a monthy hi-light in Spinsheet Magazine (written by Molly Winans):
Size matters, yes, but if you tack on experience and a positive outlook, Arnis Baltins could very well be a Star skipper’s dream crew. A native Anne Arundel County kid, Baltins was too busy cruising and racing with his parents on a San Juan 28, hitching rides on log canoes, racing on 420s, windsurfing, and doing deliveries with his neighbors to get involved in a junior sailing program. After “happening upon” St. Mary’s College on a family cruise, he enrolled in 1987, majored in “economics, sailing, and rugby,” and made his way to the Ukraine for the Black Sea Regatta in 1989, where the team took second.
Starting in the late 1980s, Baltins has raced on a variety of programs on J/29s, J/35s, and Shock 35s, as well as on high-level programs such as TP 52s, Maxis, and 50-footers. He started sailing Stars in 1991. Two years later, he launched into “a pretty good” seven-year run with Annapolis sailor Kevin McNeil sailing Stars and a J/35. They won numerous High Point honors in both classes and won or placed in the top three in every C-level Star regatta on the East Coast, including winning district championships.
Following the Olympic trials for the 2000 games in Stars and the Star World Championships in Annapolis, Baltins had “had enough” and decided to go fishing. For four years, he fished an average of three times per week and “got to know the Bay at the mid-Atlantic bight very well.” He credits his extensive knowledge of currents, tides, and wind patterns in the Middle Bay to this experience, which has been useful in sailing.
In 2004, Baltins began to sail with Annapolis sailor John White—as one of the crew known as Many Bad People—on his Henderson 30 and remains a regular onboard the unnamed purple boat. He has also sailed with Bill Kardash on the Swan 44 Aura and twice competed in the Swan Cup in Porto Cervo, Italy, placing second in 2006. In 2007, Baltins started to sail with Dave Askew on the J/120 Flying Jenny V (now the J/122 Flying Jenny VI). The crew won its class at Block Island Race Week (2007), took second in class in the Annapolis to Bermuda Race (2008), won its class in the Annapolis to Newport Race (2009), and took a second at Block Island Race Week (2009).
When he’s not sailing, working in the software industry, or playing on his 23-foot Seacraft fishing boat with his wife Diane, Baltins is a volunteer coach with the Navy Varsity Offshore Sailing Team.
SpinSheet: Who are your sailing mentors?
Kevin McNeil, Jonathan Bartlett, Mike Ironmonger, John White, Steve King, and Jahn Tihansky.
Do you have a favorite place on the Bay?
Lately, the lower Potomac—the Yeomico River, Bloodsworth Island, and Point Lookout.
Do you have a Chesapeake Bay sailing story you’ve told over and over?
We were struck by lightning once on John White’s Henderson 30 when a storm blew in during Annapolis Race Week. An Albacore came by planing out of control and sank, and we picked him up and called the Coast Guard to report the sunken boat in Whitehall Bay…
What television shows do you watch?
Mad Men and Entourage.
What are your non-sailing passions?
I try to ride 130-150 miles per week on my road bike. Fishing and snowboarding.
You could live in a lot of places. Why do you live here?
Every once in awhile, I get a bug to go live in a “lifestyle town” like Charleston or somewhere I can be a ski bum. It’s hard to leave, though. I can launch a kayak or paddleboard from the end of my street, ride my bike most places, and rarely get in my car. No matter what you’re looking for in a lifestyle town, we have it here.
What advice do you have for a young racing sailor?
Go in with open eyes and be willing to do whatever task you’ve been asked to do, even if it seems menial or disgusting. Be a team player, someone who can be counted upon. People will notice and take you under their wings. No whining [laughs].
What are your sailing goals?
I’d like to do another Olympic campaign in the Star class.
If you won the lottery, what kind of boat would you buy?
Three Farr 40s, one in Europe, one in the U.S., and one in Australia. Maybe a Melges 32 or an old TP 52…