EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW : Jason Sutherland
1 January 2007
1). Between you and your brothers Mike and Toby, the Sutherland family has produced very talented sailors. What was your first sailing experience and who was your biggest sailing influence as young sailor?
Our father Jerry made the somewhat audacious purchase of a used wooden E at Grand Lake after limited experience on an El Toro poorly suited to his 6’3” frame. Dad found more room while our mother Ella Mae, Toby and I were indoctrinated to racing by some wet and cold summers of capsizing in mountain squalls. Mike was either younger or smarter, jumping aboard only intermittently before we figured out which side of the boat was up. The top Grand Lake E sailors of the time were Scally O’Donnell, Dick Campbell and Jim Munn. With the right approach they were all eager to help interested young sailors learn the ropes. My first E scow outing came at Scally’s invitation, and Jim took Jerry out for his eye-opening introduction.
2). When did you first begin to enjoy the E Scow and is there anything in particular that keeps you so competitive in the E Scow Class?
I think I was hooked nearly from the start as a seventeen year old crewing for Dad. The enjoyment factor certainly increased as we began to learn the game. Any chance to get someone like Andy Burdick on the boat for a ride helps identify the areas we need to focus some effort on, but we’ve always relied on traveling to regattas to help keep improving our skills. Racing with such a great class seems to force us to improve, and we count on you guys to make sure we have the right equipment. Its great to be able to e mail an inquiry to Sam Rogers when you’re trying to figure out how to set up for a regatta.
3). Not many people have had the experience of sailing on Grand Lake, and for those who have, mountain sailing can be difficult. Do you have any words of advice to master the tricky conditions of Grand Lake?
It is certainly important to retain a sense of humor, if you’re going to attempt a race in sporadic conditions. I guess its similar to the game elsewhere with an emphasis on shifting gears, avoiding risks early in a race, and keeping your eyes on the water for opportunities. Mike and Jay watch all over the lake for new breeze, so that we can get a jump towards any wind in the lighter conditions. They are also terrific at changing our sails as offwind can turn into a beat in a flash. Keeping a good attitude is important, because your chance to make a big gain can occur when least expected.
4).You have been sailing with your brother Mike and Jay O’Neall for quite sometime. What is the most important factor in keeping a good team together over a long period of time?
I feel real lucky to have shared the E experience with Jay and Mike for 19 and 17 years going into 2008. Our range of commitments has changed a lot over that span, but we always look forward to getting together for a new season or race. We meet our expectations only when each of us is performing well. The way to keep enjoying the shared challenge is to strive for excellence, then make sure to accept and support each other when each of us take our turns screwing it up.
5). Your brother Toby (GL-7) has been very competitive in the E Scow Class over the past few years. Is there anything you do to throw your brother off his game when it comes to Grand Lake Regatta Week and winning the Prestigious Lipton Cup?
Toby, Scott Munn, and Jeff Munn’s accomplishments on the circuit coming from our remote fleet are tremendous. We’re real proud of their results, and I really enjoy the way they are embraced by the greater E scow world. Whether it’s the Blue Chip or our race week for the prize donated by Sir Thomas; those guys are focused. Throwing them off their game is difficult, so it’s better to cut down on your own mistakes to try and stay in the running.
6). Being from Denver, it is known you are devout Broncos Football fan. When do you predict the Broncos will win their next Super Bowl?
Well Sam, it’s going to be a heck of a run, bordering on Rockies-type unbelievable. Watch for the mighty Broncos to win out, get some help from the competition to gain entry into the tournament, then march to and win the big game this time around. Apologize to Andy for me; Wisconsin will have to face the pain again as that early season bomb will ultimately be revenged (as long as your Vikings don’t come in here and mess with the storyline).