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Leadership

Meet the dedicated individuals behind our organization

Our team oversees The Sailing Foundation's work in promoting the advancement of youth sailing and boating safety.

Board of Directors

Dave Rutherford, President

Dave was brought up sailing in Northwest waters, starting out in El Toros and Penguins and then graduating to large boat racing around the Sound. He continues to sail the waters of the Pacific Northwest, cruising the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island. He has sailed in Maine, Scandinavia, the Caribbean, New Zealand and Australia. As a Seattle native and retired architect, he keeps himself busy designing and sewing bags from recycled sails when he is not saiing with his family on their Valiant 40.

Doug Fryer, Founding Director (In Memoriam)

A founding director and past president of The Sailing Foundation, Doug was actively involved with the Foundation right up until his passing in April of 2020. A co-inventor of the Lifesling, Doug raced cruising boats on Puget Sound and had extensive offshore racing experience: Transpac, Single Handed Transpac, Tahiti Race, eleven Victoria Maui Races 1968-2006. Doug also cruised to the South Pacific, Alaska, and circumnavigated South America by way of Cape Horn and the Panama Canal. Doug raced his beloved 42 foot custom Perry design cutter Night Runner. Doug was an attorney with Mikkelborg, Broz, Wells and Fryer.

Dick Rose, VP/Youth Sailing

Dick has raced sailboats since the age of nine. For most of his life he sailed dinghies – in college, frostbiting on Long Island Sound, and then International 14s and Lasers in Seattle. More recently he has enjoyed PHRF racing and cruising on Puget Sound in his Laser 28. After many years on the faculty of the University of Washington, Dick turned his attention to the racing rules for sailing. Since 1984 he has written a monthly column on the rules in Sailing World. He served as chairman of the US Sailing Racing Rules Committee and now is chairman of the International Sailing Federation’s committee responsible for publishing the 2017 edition of the racing rules. He is a US Sailing Senior Judge who regularly judges high school sailing championships in the Pacific Northwest.

John Vynne, VP/Treasurer

John has raced and cruised one-design and cruising boats for over 60 years.  In addition to sailing extensively throughout the NW, he has sailed in Australia, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean.  His family has been involved in sailing in the Seattle area for over 100 years.  He currently owns a Valiant 40 which he cruises with his wife Barb and family.  He is still actively engaged in his business which manufactures electronic instrumentation and software for the mining industry.

Barry Curtin

Barry Curtin is an avid sailor. He was introduced to sailing by his parents at a young age and has enjoyed many years of both racing and cruising. Growing up, Barry raced out of the Houston Yacht Club, and Buzzards Sailing Club in Massachusetts. He also raced for the University of Texas collegiate team while attending school there. In 2007, Barry moved to the Seattle area to take a job with Physio-Control in Redmond. Since moving, Barry has been active in the Seattle Laser Fleet and PHRF circuit.

Brendan Fahey

Brendan has been an "unofficial" board member of The Foundation, serving on the youth committee and as part of the hiring team for the Youth Sailing Director.  He has vast  local knowledge regarding youth sailing and the local sailing community.  Brendan grew up sailing, at a very competitive level, racing both in high school sailing and youth racing.  He was part of the North Kitsap high school team and did his own Laser racing.  He then went on the sail at the University of Washington, helping to run that program.  Since then Brendan has been very active with youth sailing and continues to race himself.  He frequently helps with running high school and college races around the northwest.  And he actively races in the local Tasar fleet.  

Matt Hebard

Matt grew up sailing keelboats and dinghies in Puget Sound in the 1980s. After attending two USYRU Youth Championships, he thought it was time to get the ball rolling with high school sailing in the Pacific NW and worked with Bainbridge Island Parks and Recreation to start a sailing team, but graduated and was off to college before any regional regattas occurred. While earning degrees at the University of Washington, Matt sailed at several intercollegiate national championships, and made an ocean transit or two. Matt served four years in the US Navy JAG Corps, and has held a 50 ton USCG Master License. Presently, when he is not with his young family, he enjoys one design racing.

Ryan Helling

Ryan has been boating and sailing on Pacific Northwest waters since before he could walk. He enjoys racing dinghies and keelboats, exploring new cruising grounds with family and friends and fly fishing on Puget Sound for salmon and sea run cutthroat. He has coached youth sailing and loves to see new sailors on the water. Ryan is a partner and broker at Swiftsure Yachts, a yacht brokerage in Seattle specializing in high quality racing and cruising sailboats.

Haley Lhamon

Haley started sailing on a lake in Texas with her parents where she soon raced Optimists, Laser Radials, and Laser II's. She competed in national Jr. championships, instructed at Santa Cruz YC, and then sailed on the Stanford Sailing Team. In Michigan she and her husband Rusty coached a high school team, mentored a keelboat team of disadvantaged youth, and raced their J/35 in the Chicago-Mackinac. Haley later organized women's clinics on Lake WA with support from the Thistle and Snipe fleets. She and Rusty also co-chaired the first NW Opti Regionals in 2012 at Corinthian YC. Now on Bainbridge Island, she assists the high school sailing team, serves as a PMYC Jr. Advisor, and coordinates Parks & Rec's sailing program. Her two sons agree that their favorite family vacations are cruising adventures!

Margaret Pommert VP/SaS Chair

Margaret is a northwest native who started sailing over 35 years ago.  Since then, she has sailed thousands of miles in many parts of the world, including the Inside Passage to Alaska, San Francisco Bay, the Med, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, the Great Lakes, the Channel Islands, Mexico, and Chesapeake Bay. When she moved back to the Puget Sound area 6 years ago, she focused more on coastal cruising and being a sailing instructor. She has been an instructor since 2004, teaching both adults and children, in dinghies and keelboats. She is a certified instructor with both the American Sailing Association and U.S. Sailing, and holds a U.S. Coast Guard Master Captains License in Power, Sail, and Towing.  She currently teaches sailing at San Juan Sailing, and The Center for Wooden Boats. She leads the Women’s Program at Seattle Sailing Club and is very active in the local sailing community. She has just retired from a corporate career, which has included developing training for adults to be delivered in a ‘virtual’ or on-line environment.

 

Burke Thomas

Burke started racing El Toros on Green Lake at age 8 and has enjoyed sailing ever since. He enjoys coaching the Orcas High School Sailing Team and is the director of NWISA. Burke is president of Woodsong Inc, a custom home building firm serving the San Juan Islands.

Wright Wataoka

Wright learned to sail in the late 70's at the UW WAC behind Husky Stadium.  Shortly after that, began volunteer teaching, and racing both dinghies and keelboats.  Since the mid 80's taught sailing & windsurfing for Mt Baker Rowing & Sailing Center.  Cruising from Tacoma to Gulf Islands.  Delivery of boats throughout Puget Sound.  Assisted delivery of boats from California & Hawaii.  Working in the accounting industry since the early 80's.

Scott Wilson

Scott discovered sailing in college racing on his uncles Santa Cruz 52, Diehler.  He learned to sail racing the Santa Cruz and taking a learn to sail course from Jeff Davis at WWU.  He quickly fell in love with the sport and started a sailing team while studying engineering at Washington State University. He currently lives in Bellingham and coaches and runs the local high school sailing program. He's actively involved with high school and college sailing as an ISSA board member, NWISA vice-president, and NWICSA Treasurer. He enjoys racing his Etchells and Tasar with his wife Mallory and daughter Emma.

Staff

Andrew Nelson, Youth Sailing Director

Andrew has spent most of his life in the Northwest and on the water. He grew up racing locally on a Cal 40 with his dad and then got into dinghy sailing during his high school and college years. A career in sailing wasn't on his radar when he graduated with an education endorsement from Western Washington University, but he knew he wanted to work with youth. After spending a couple of summers coaching in Southern California, he was hired as the Junior Sailing Director at Encinal Yacht Club in the Bay Area. Being a junior sailing director allowed him to combine his passion of sailing and working with youth. It also allowed him to be part of a very successful model, where youth and high school sailing is highly organized and competitive.

Barb Ruiz, Administrative Assistant

Barb has worked as administrative assistant, bookkeeper and office manager within the electronics manufacturing industry for most of her business career.  She has known and worked with John Vynne for over 30 years, and in 2009, agreed to take on the bookkeeping and administrative work for The Sailing Foundation.  Barb has enjoyed her association with the sailing community and is proud of the support they provide to youth sailing and safety at sea.