Annapolis has long been considered the sailing capital of the world, and the sudden loss of one of its bright stars is being felt far and wide.
Geoff Ewenson, one of Annapolis’s pioneering professional sailors, died suddenly of an apparent heart attack Oct. 14 at just 50 years old. Ewenson was a competitor on the international stage, taking second place in the U.S. Olympic trials in the Finn class in 2004 and 2008, and competing on several championship-winning boats over a few decades.
National Sailing Hall of Fame President and past US Sailing President Gary Jobson was shocked and saddened by the loss.
“Looking back I feel lucky to have been a crew mate with Geoff and often a competitor. He was always at the top of his game. I remember on a breezy Fall 40 mile race around the Chesapeake in a TP 52. We were flying North up the bay in 30 plus knots of wind. Geoff was trimming the main. After a few minutes he said to the helmsman in the most understated manner, ‘We could go faster.’ The incredulous helmsman simple asked, ‘How?’ I was watching the exchange with great interest especially since we were already skipping over the waves at 22 knots. Geoff then coached the helmsman, ‘Just head up two degrees, and every time you get a blast head down with the puff and we will gain.’ The helmsman did as instructed and soon we were in the lead,” Jobson recounts.
As a competitor, Jobson likens Geoff to tennis great Roger Federer, “because
he just kept playing persistently hard. Geoff just kept coming at you. He was fast and clever…Essentially he strived for perfection.”
Off the water, Geoff was just as persistent in his efforts to help others. With his wife, Mary, publisher of SpinSheet Publishing Company, Ewenson volunteered with organizations including Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating, the United States Naval Academy, and Athletes Serving Athletes. He was a strong supporter of the Naval Academy Varsity Offshore Sailing Team (VOST).
The team posted on Facebook, “Geoff was involved with VOST in so many ways—as a pro sailor, he was invaluable coaching on our high performance boats when he had the time. He also was very involved in helping us procure several of our donated thoroughbreds. We will always be grateful for his support of VOST.”
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley released a public statement honoring Ewenson:
“Geoff had recently turned 50 and I know for many people, myself included, this news feels raw and painful because it doesn’t seem possible to lose such a vibrant soul at such an age. Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Geoff. He was loved and I know he will be missed.”
Mary Ewenson requests that those wishing to make donations in Geoff’s memory direct them to Athletes Serving Athletes, The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, or any other organization that does good in the world.
-Meg Walburn Viviano