Living , Modern

Donald

Trask

Don

1930

From Donald Trask’s nominator:

Don learned to sail at age seven and continues to this day, in his 80s. His successful career in Stars, Lasers, and Snipes included winning the Star North American Championships in 1966 and placing third behind Paul Elvstrom and Lowell North in the Star Worlds in 1967.

But most who know him would agree that his greatest accomplishment has been his contribution to our sport through his tireless devotion to youth sailing, advocacy and in promoting competitive sailing at all levels, starting with his founding Performance Sailcraft Corp to build 11,000 Laser class boats, 300 J24’s and 30 Star boats on the West Coast. Through this vehicle and others, he influenced countless youths, a large number of whom went on to accomplish much in our sport, including several world champions and Olympians. He is a friend to countless sportsmen throughout the world and there is not a harbor or yacht club where he does not have friends and acquaintances. I learned firsthand, as his crew, how a fierce competitive spirit can be reconciled with uncompromising sportsmanship. Our sport is far better off as a result of Don’s devotion, passion, and dedication to sailing and to his fellow sailors.

 

Accomplishments and Awards

  • 1993 J35 National Championships
  • 1966 1st, Star North American Championship (Silver Star)
  • 1967 3rd, Star World Championship (Behind Paul Elvstrom and Lowell North)
  • 1975 Inventing and promoting the San Francisco Laser Heavy Weather Slalom –  a Laser event in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club where it was always windy! 48 entries were allowed. The race structure was a ladder that led to the final winner. It was on a slalom course, had four buoys on each side, two boats would race at a time; they started on opposite sides. The two boats would sail the course and then cross to the other side, down to the bottom of that course and then back up and across to finish at the leeward mark. It was quite exciting, building to the eventual winner. This event continued for five years.
  • 1970 Founded the St. Francis Laser Junior Program –  started  with eight sailors and built to a large group of young sailors since the Laser factory was in the bay area. Within five years they had forty sailors in this Junior Sailing Program. Notables were Paul Kayard and Russ Silvestri.
  • 1979 Founded the St Francis Yacht Club (Now San Diego Yacht Club) Masters Regatta – this started in J24’s. Then the J105 became popular in San Francisco and it started a long era for the J105’s. It continued till 2012 when the Trophy was transferred from the St. Francis Yacht Club to the San Diego Yacht Club. The event was for Skippers over the age of 60 and Crew over the age of 45. In 1995, Stuart Jardine from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club won the Regatta for three consecutive years. Malin Burnham from San Diego Yacht Club won in 2000, 2005 and again in 2015. John Jennings from St. Petersburg Yacht Club won in 2001, 2002 and in 2007. Dave Perry from the Pequot Yacht Club won in 2018.
  • Founded the Sir Francis Chichister Circumnavigation of Alameda Island – For those unfamiliar with Alameda Island, this is a land mass that has four bridges that are all lower than the mast height of a Laser. To pass by, the Skipper had to tip the boat and swim past the bridge. Adding to this challenge, the current is strong enough that it is impossible to swim and guide your boat if the current is going the wrong way. The current direction and intensity were unknown at the start of each race. The start of the race was a box at the starting line allowing skippers to determine which way they would want to go around the island. It was their choice. This was a Sunday Race so savvy Skippers beforehand would go to the bridges and drop apples off to determine the current direction and intensity. To add to the challenge, on the western side of Alameda Island were mud flats and only a small channel to get to the Bayfarm Island Bridge. As the tide receded, you had to pull your centerboard up and allow your rudder to float up so you wouldn’t hit the mud banks. This race was run for a number of years; the Regatta was also the brainchild of Commodore Thompkins who was a worldwide cruiser.
  • 1975 part of the group that developed and conducted the Elvstrom Trophy. Paul Elvstrom was the most prominent sailor of his time, winning four gold medals. Since Don Trask was on the Executive Race Committee, they decided to create the Elvstrom Trophy Race and invited Paul Elvstrom to join and participate. Don recounts that Paul would have won the race however he missed a mark and Skipper Bill Keller won the Regatta with Elvstrom coming in second. In 1976 Carl Van Duyne won, Russ Silvestri wo in 1979, and John Kostecki won in 1980

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