Jonathan Dunn McKee

December 19, 1959 -

Seattle, Washington

Jonathan Dunn McKee was on a grueling 750 mile race from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska when he was selected for induction in the National Sailing Hall of Fame. When he was reached via cell phone at a remote Alaska outpost McKee sounded overjoyed with the news. The moment was typical of his lifelong enthusiasm for sailing. Over the course of his long career he has excelled in boats of all types and sizes. In 1984 McKee and his childhood friend, Carl Buchan, won a Gold Medal at the Olympic Games in the Flying Dutchman Class.

At the age of 40, McKee teamed up with his younger brother, Charlie, in the brand new 49er skiff to try to win a berth for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Charlie, an accomplished sailor himself, had won a Bronze Medal at the 1988 Olympics as crew for John Shadden in the International 470 Class. The brothers qualified to represent the United States. The demands on the high speed skiff were challenging for the sailors. It was envisioned that the 49er would be a “young person’s boat.” The brothers were the oldest competitors in the 17 boat fleet. They finished 6-3-5-1-5-1-3-3-1-11-7-6-11-1 in the series to secure a Bronze Medal. One year later the duo would win the 49er World Championship. McKee says the path to winning a medal is to peak at the right time.

McKee was a three time All American sailor at Yale University. After graduating in 1985 he won a World Championship in the Flying Dutchman Class, later raced in the 2003 and 2007 America’s Cup challenger trials, crewed in part of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race aboard “Il Mostro” and raced in the singlehanded 4000 mile Mini Transat Race in a 6.5 meter (21.3 feet) boat. He had a 70 mile lead in the race when his mast broke. In 2005, 2010 and 2011 he was the tactician on the winning boat in the Melges 24 World Championship and placed second in the Melges 32 Worlds in 2010. He also won the Tasar World Championship a record 4 times, sailing with his wife Libby Johnson McKee – bringing his World Championship tally to 9, so far.

In 1992 McKee was the head coach of the United States Olympic Sailing Team in Barcelona, Spain. The team won medals in 9 of 10 classes. At the 50th Anniversary of the E Scow Blue Chip Regatta in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, McKee was one of 25 invited sailing champions of the Olympics, America’s Cup, round the world racing, and one design classes. McKee noted at the time, “To be included among that group was a real honor for me. I am reminded not only what good sailors they are but what good people they are and how many of them have given back to the sport and continue to do so.” Jonathan McKee certainly fits that description along with the other sailors. McKee is a prolific writer about racing technique and issues in the sport. His views are respected by many sailors around the world.

~Gary Jobson

Preserving America’s Sailing Legacy

Engaging Sailing’s Next Generation

Stay Connected to the National Sailing Hall of Fame