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Welcome 2016 Officers and Directors

David Sebald  | Published on 10/5/2015

Dave Gorwitz, MYC Rear Commodore (2016) & Director (thru 2018)


I started sailing in college when I joined Hoofers in 1979.  I later became a Hoofers instructor and started racing in MYC on Hoofers’ Santa Cruz 33, Maria.  A couple of years later I purchased my first boat, a Santa Cruz 27, Cadenza.  Our all-Hoofers-alumni crew on Cadenza won a bunch of MYC trophies, including a couple of season championships.  I also did a fair amount of cruising as part of Hoofers’ flotillas, skippering many trips to the Florida Keys and San Diego.  Several of us also chartered in the BVI, Greek Islands, Australia and New Zealand.


In the mid-1980’s, I purchased Tyrol Marine Sailboat House (now The Boathouse of Madison) and got into the sailboat business.  I continued my racing and in 1993 we purchased one of the very first Melges 24’s.  In addition to racing in MYC, I had the privilege of sailing with some really fine professionals in the M24 fleet over the next 10-15 years, including Keith Musto, Dave Ullman and Scott Allen.  I also was regular crew on Jeff Russel and Donny Anderson’s A-scow, the Magic Bus.


I sold the Boathouse in around 2003 and set off on my current career as a business attorney.  My off-Mendota racing these days is focused on match racing.  Getting into match racing has really improved my game and has re-invigorated my love of the sport; if you want to get better, try match racing!  Sailing with MYC member Dave Niemann, we have been steadily improving and last year were ranked by ISAF as high as No. 44 in in the world and No. 5 in the USA.  For the second consecutive year, we have qualified for the US Match Race Championships (to be sailed this October in Swedish Match 40’s at Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY).


My MYC racing for the past five years or so has been as a crew member on Chuck Duroni and Dave Niemann’s J80, Eidolon.  I couldn’t be luckier than to be part of their wonderful, talented and deep team!  I am a past Commodore of MYC and this will be my second stint as a member of the MYC Board.  For several years I’ve been MYC’s US Sailing PHRF liaison and am the currently the chair of the MYC protest committee.




Ben Miller, MYC Secretary (2016)

My first experience sailing was on a Rhodes Bantam, a beautiful 14-foot wooden sailboat, on Cayuga Lake in Upstate New York, when I was about 12. I was hooked immediately. However, my real sailing education began a couple years later on Lasers at at a Boy Scout camp. Sailing all week at camp was the highlight of my summer for the next few years. In addition, my friend's father, who owned the Rhodes, began teaching the two of us to sail it. Unfortunately, my sailing career came to a halt when a squall snapped the wooden mast, and then college consumed my life.


I moved to Madison in August of 2012 to begin a graduate program at UW, and I joined Hoofers immediately. I started sailing dinghies, and then got sucked into the keelboat fleet, eventually earning a skipper rating on Spray. In 2013, another member introduced me to Peggy Elath as substitute crew on her J/80. In 2014, I began teaching on C scows at Hoofers, and began racing with Peggy more regularly. In the Fall of 2014, I joined the Hoofers board as the Scow Fleet captain, and simultaneously became the MYC/Hoofers liason. In 2015, I sailed occasionally with Peggy, and began trimming jib regularly on Eric Kerlow's E-scow.


When I'm not sailing, I'm most likely studying. However, I have sometimes found the time to bicycle around the lakes, climb rocks, or even make the jaunt to Chicago for a concert.




John Rather, Director (thru 2018)


I’ve been on sailboats since I was in diapers. My father is a life-long sailor and has always encouraged me to make sailing a part of my life. I grew up racing optis, MCs, M-16s and J-24s out of Neenah-Nodaway Yacht Club.  I was an active member of the UW Sailing Team all 4 years of college. While in college I also worked summers as a youth instructor and coach, first at my home yacht club and later in Lake Geneva, receiving my U.S. Sailing Levels 1 and 2 instructor certifications along the way. Many of my closest friends are former teammates and fellow coaches I met in college.


While in Milwaukee for law school I crewed on a T-10 that won North Americans and on a Mumm-36. I also was a youth and adult instructor at Milwaukee Yacht Club. After law school I returned to Madison and began crewing on E scows. I met my lovely wife Katie one Sunday crewing on the Sugars’ E scow. She and I now partner with Mike and Susie Barnett on an E, my favorite boat I’ve ever raced. Aside from sailing, Katie and I are avid skiers (cross country and downhill), cyclists, campers and travelers.


I’ve been a part of several yacht and sailing clubs, but none quite like MYC. The collegiality, encouragement and down to earth nature of the club and its members make it one of a kind. I’m looking forward to being further involved in MYC and helping bring new people into sailboat racing, especially youth. We have a wealth of knowledge in the club and I want to see us leverage that to encourage the next generation of sailors.




Clarke Sugar, Director (thru 2018)


My involvement in sailing was in many ways preordained.  Following my cousins' (Ben, Hugh, and Tim) decision to purchase an X-Boat, I was often asked to fill in as crew on windy days.  I also followed their lead by participating in the youth sailing and windsurfing courses every summer through Hoofers.  Eventually, I graduated from the X-Boat and begin crewing on a regular basis on an earlier version of the Mirage with Lon Schoor.  A formative sailing experience occurred during my first regatta on Lake Winnebago when during a cold and windy day the boom vang broke on the A-scow, and I found myself on the skipper's request sitting on back edge of the boom as ballast, feet dangling over the water, as we raced downwind with the remainder of the fleet to our stern. 


In high school, I was able to parlay my interest in sailing into a great summer job by returning to Hoofers as an instructor primarily for their youth sailing and windsurfing classes and conference sailing program.  I continued to teach sailing and windsurfing, along with spending some time doing boat maintenance and repair while attending the UW-Madison.  We have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to boat and sail in some incredible places such as the Apostle Islands, British and U.S Virgin Islands, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  


Aside from sailing, I enjoy hiking, road biking, skiing, camping, traveling and cooking with my wife (Leah) and two children (Bode 3 and Soren 9 mos.). I work as a corporate, bankruptcy, and real estate attorney with Axley Brynelson, LLP in downtown Madison.  My interest in MYC is primarily to give back to and help sustain a club which has offered me so many learning and recreational opportunities as a youth and now as an adult.  I am presently a part of the elite H-19 program that sails out of its own port, so by getting involved with the leadership of MYC I look forward to having more interaction with its members.