Living , Modern

John

Kolius

1951

1 From earning a silver medal at the Olympics to skippering several America’s Cup entries, John Kolius has competed successfully at the highest levels of sailing.

Kolius’s first boat was a Sunfish and he grew up sailing at the Houston Yacht Club through the Ragnot program. In 1968, John won his first major championship, the Sears Cup. He was 17 years old. Two years later at the age of 19, Kolius won the US Sailing Senior Championship for the Mallory Trophy. It was not too long after that he began sailing Solings and preparing for the Olympics. In 1975, John won the Soling North Americans and in 1976 an Olympic silver medal.

Kolius became an America’s Cup competitor in 1983, skippering Courageous against National Sailing Hall of Famers Tom Blackaller in Defender and eventual cup defender Dennis Conner in Liberty. Kolius was recruited for his second Cup effort in 1987, this time as skipper of America II. When the America’s Cup shifted to IACC yachts for the 1992 Cup, Kolius sailed as part of the Italian team, Il Moro di Venezia, in which he placed third at the IACC Worlds in 1991. He coached the team to a second place in the 1992 America’s Cup. America3 recruited Kolius as a coach for their all-woman’s Cup run in 1995. Then when the Cup traveled to New Zealand for the 2000 event, Kolius put together the Aloha Racing Team.

Throughout his sailing career, John has won numerous championship events. He is a two-time winner of the J/24 Worlds (1979 and 1981), the 50-foot World Championships in 1992, the Kenwood Cup in 1994, and the 1997 Admiral’s Cup just to name a few. John was also part of the team that helped kick off the Ultimate 30 Pro Racing Series in the late 1980s and went on to win the Ultimate 30 Championship in 1989.

Kolius learned his sailmaking skills and honed his sailing through mentors Martin Bloodworth, Owen Torrey, Hans Fogh and Buddy Melges. In 1983, Kolius opened the Texas franchise of Ulmer Sails which then became Ulmer-Kolius. Several years later, Kolius sold his franchise, finding himself too busy with America’s Cup events to be able to participate in the business. Ulmer-Kolius then became UK. In the 1990s, Kolius opened Regatta Sports and Rigging, which later became KO Sailing. Currently, Kolius has retired from operating KO Sailing. He continues to coach and support the business in an advisory role.

Anecdote

Not many people have had the success on the water as John. In a time of heavy boats that were so hard to drive downwind, he was one of the best downwind helmsmen ever. I raced with John for years, during the old SORC days, John would drive every minute of every race, including the St. Petersburg/Fort Lauderdale Race. There were no drivers at that time that were that strong who could drive for that long. 

– Farley Fontenot, Executive Vice President of Quantum Sail Design

Accomplishments and Honors

Year(s)

Places(s)

Event

2008

1st

Melges 24 Atlantic Coast Championship

2005

1st

J/80 North American Championship

2002

2nd

Sunfish World Championship

1998

Boat of the Week

Key West Race Week, OD 48 Abracadabra

1998

1st

One-design 48 World Championship Abracadabra

1997

1st Place Team

Admiral’s Cup MK Café

1995

First to Finish

Transpac, Cheval (with a broken mast)

1994

1st in Class, 1st Overall

Kenwood Cup Growler

1992

1st

50-foot World Cup Champosa VII

1990

1st

50-foot World Cup Abracadabra

1988

1st

Stienlager/Line 7 New Zealand Match Race Cup

1988

1st

Bermuda Gold Cup Match Race

1988

1st Place Team

US Team Racing Hinman Trophy

1987

2nd

1 Ton North Americans

1986

1987 America’s Cup

America II

1985

1st in Class B

SORC Morningstar 50’

1984

1st in Class B

SORC Morningstar

1984

1st in Class E

Newport Bermuda Road Warrior

1984

2nd

1 Ton North Americans Road Warrior

1983

America’s Cup

Courageous

1983

1st in Class and 5 in Fleet

SORC Morningstar

1981

1st

Championship of Champions

1981

1st in Fleet

Chicago Mac Race Thunderbird

1980

1st

Sardina Cup Acadia

1976

Olympic Silver Medal

Soling

1979, 1982

1st

J/24 World Championship

1975

1st

Soling North American Championship

1971

1st

Mallory Cup

1968

1st

Sears Cup

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