Who doesn’t love a sentimental story with a happy ending? Doug Jurrius is a strapping, sappy kind of a guy—the kind of guy with an honest face who bought his first Sunfish with his paper route money as a kid, who openly talks about his sailing “dreams” rather than “goals,” and who prints his theme “Love Always Wins” on his crew shirts. He also happens to be the type of skipper who wins sailboat races.
Born in Newport, RI, as a Navy kid, Jurrius “lived as a rolling stone,” including a move to the Pittsburgh, PA, area where he began to sail with his dad on Flying Scots on Lake Arthur. In the mid-1970s, the family moved to Yardley, PA, and began to drive three hours every weekend to the Eastern Shore to cruise on the Chesapeake, first on a Tanzer 22 (remember the days when a family would cruise on a boat that small?) and then, on a Tartan 34.
Jurrius and his wife of 27 years, Cindy, whom he met at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, did some moving around themselves and eventually landed just outside of St. Michaels—an area to which he’s had family ties dating back to his grandparents—where they are now rooted with their three teenage sons. “The place has such a great sense of community,” he says. He raced and cruised his C&C 37 Persuasion until he sold her in 2005 and went in search of a solid racer-cruiser on which he could achieve his dream of racing to Bermuda. After much deliberation and good gut feelings, he and
Cindy chose the Cal 40 Belle Aurore (circa 1967).
Jurrius started sending e-mail updates about his race program to fellow Tred Avon YC (TAYC) members, attracting good crew, and winning races. The Belle Aurore crew won their first Annapolis to Oxford Race in 2007, three Skipper Races (a 50-mile, October race) in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and CBYRA High Point top honors in 2008 and 2009.
After four years of intense and expensive physical and mental preparation, Jurrius and his crew, including his 15-year old son, won their class and third overall in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division in their first Newport to Bermuda Race in June. “There’s so much preparation involved in such a race… and then you get to the finish, and there’s nobody there! It is weirdly anti-climatic. You have these two buoys you have to sail through that aren’t exactly on the finish line, and 30 seconds after you think you finish, you radio someone who is up at the lighthouse looking through a line of sight. I had this complete fantasy there would be a boat with Dark and Stormies waiting…” He’s not complaining, though. He just achieved his greatest sailing dream and is ready to do it again.
SpinSheet: Who are your sailing mentors?
My dad, Charlie Lea, and Jim Thompson, and most of the folks at Tred Avon YC. They really support ocean racers, and I ask lots of questions!
Who are your best sailing buddies?
Russell Stone (he’s my BFAM, my brother from another mother), Mike Rajacich, and Mark Pellerin.
Do you have a favorite sailing memory from this season?
Bermuda! Seeing dolphins… They would come right alongside of the boat in a pair and then take off at an angle and draw the “mark of Zorro” in the water. The glowing trail in the phosphorescence was very cool.
What kind of music gets you going?
On the boat, a lot of 1960s and 1970s stuff: Santana, Joe Cocker, and Motown.
What magazines do you read?
SpinSheet, Sailing World, Sailing, Popular Science, and Popular Mechanics.
What is your routine on the morning of a race?
I’m always busy trying to get lunch made. It’s one of the key things. You have to have good food. I make a French baguette with turkey, provolone, and pesto sauce…
Do you have any advice for young racing sailors?
Focus on the enjoyment of the sport as a community. Sure, it’s a competitive sport, but at the end of the day, we’re not doing much more than walking speed. Enjoy the friendships, the community—that’s really what it’s about.
What sailing gear do you prefer?
I wear 10-year-old Henry Lloyd foul weather gear (which actually needs some help. The bibs are beyond just not being waterproof… they hold water!) We’re Eastern Shore sailors, so part of that ethos is how bad you can look while you’re kicking the Annapolis guys’ butts.
If you won the lottery, what kind of boat would you buy?
I’d buy five more Cal 40s so that we’d have Cal 40 one-design racing. Or I’d buy a fleet of Moths to get more kids into sailing.