The following is the October APS Chesapeake Racer Profile, a monthy hi-light in Spinsheet Magazine (written by Molly Winans):
“I grew up sailing in predominantly light air, so sailing here wasn’t a big adjustment, just a bigger body of water,” says Annapolis sailor Dave Askew. A native of Grosse Pointe, MI, as a junior sailor, Askew sailed Lasers and FJs out of the “little sailing epicenter” of the Bayview YC (BYC) on the Detroit River. Whereas the stereotypical little-league-style yacht club parent wants his kids to win, Askew’s dad had different motives. He knew that if he hooked his three sons into sailing, they would be employable.
“Through high school and college, I spent my summers working on boats and then running race boats,” says Askew, who graduated from the University of Michigan. “I didn’t do collegiate sailing—I went straight to big boats. It was my meal ticket. I put myself through college on loans and running boats.”
It was while hauling one such big boat that he noticed a certain Michigan marina manager’s daughter named Sandy, who later became his wife. I actually knew her brother Gary Snider first. He kept her hidden from me for a long time.”
The Askews moved to Annapolis in 1991, as the family chemical manufacturer had a plant in Baltimore at that time, and the Sailing Capital seemed like a natural fit. They live in the same Murray Hill home they considered temporary back then, now with their three daughters, Waverly (15), Ally (13), and Olivia (10).
In the 15 years before Annapolis (and then kids), Askew competed annually in the BYC Port Huron to Mackinac (which is up to a 254-nautical-milelong race, depending on the course) and the Chicago Mac (285 nautical miles), as well as racing in SORC, Cowes Race Week, Fastnet, 50-foot Worlds, One Ton North Americans, Canada’s Cup, San Francisco Big Boat Series, Newport-Bermuda, Block Island Race Week, and Key West Race
Week, among others.
Looking back, Askew is surprised at how much his racing slowed down while his daughters were younger, with his resume only reflecting a few Macs and Governor’s Cups for a few years. He’s made a respectable comeback. Starting in 2005 on his J/120 Flying Jenny V (named for Sandy’s mother, as were many of her dad’s boats), he’s taken many bullets at top regattas such as the Annapolis to Newport, Newport to Bermuda, and Annapolis to Bermuda Races.
In 2008, his J/122 Flying Jenny VI crew won the Onion Patch series (a cumulative award for the NYYC Annual, Newport to Bermuda, and Royal Bermuda YC Anniversary Regattas). In 2009, his all-star crew won the Annapolis to Newport Race—with memorable dolphin, whale, and turtle sightings along the way. Flying Jenny VI also took second at Block Island Race Week and thirds in the NYYC Annual and Larchmont NOOD Regattas. At the time of print, the crew was headed to American YC in Rye, NY for the J/122 East Coast Championships.
SpinSheet: Who are your sailing mentors?
Bill Martin and Gary Jobson are two who helped me to understand there’s a whole industry out there and to step up my game in big boat offshore racing.
Who are your best sailing buddies?
Jonathan Bartlett, Paul Murphy, Dave and Lyn Lattie, Sandy Askew, Gary Snider, and Peter Askew.
What is your top sailing memory from this summer?
Racing to Newport. It was the best crew I’ve ever sailed with. The women on the boat, Renee Mehl and Nicole Weaver, were the only two who could drive downwind in fog… I felt like we couldn’t lose. We had to win. And we did.
Do you have a favorite place on the Bay?
Oxford. There’s just something about that place. It’s like a throw-back.
Do you have any non-sailing passions?
We discovered skiing five years ago as a family and go to Snowbird and Alta in Utah. Last year, our family skied 30 days together with the parents skiing almost 50.
What sports do you follow?
Stock car racing.
Do you have a favorite watering hole on the Bay?
We like to take the family in the Whaler to Cantler’s Riverside Inn.
Do you have a routine the morning of a race?
I don’t like to just hop on a boat and go. I like to touch and feel everything, set up the computer, and touch all the sails. I get there an hour before everyone else and am always the last to leave.
What gear do you depend upon?
Henri Lloyd, Patagonia, Dubarry boots, and Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses.
Is there anything you haven’t achieved on the water you would like to?
The Transpac and Sydney-Hobart Races.
What is your advice to a young racing sailor?
Sail as much as possible—it’s a relationship activity. Don’t get stuck with any one group, especially if you’re not having fun or learning anything.
What’s up for 2010?
We’re trucking the boat to Detroit to do the Detroit NOOD, Port Huron Mac, Chicago Mac, and Harbor Springs Races.