Start Sailing Now: Meet Jean Holt

 Jean Holt (purple neck gator)trimming spinnaker. Jean Holt, assistant director of recreation and wellness at Old Dominion University (ODU), learned to sail approximately 10 years ago at an ODU adult summer sail camp. Once she mastered the basics, Holt jumped into weeknight racing and discovered a love of competitive sailing. How did you get started in sailing? My first experience sailing was in the late 1980s when I went sailing once or twice with a friend who had a boat, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. When I moved to Norfolk, VA, I was fortunate enough to work at a university that had a sailing team and offered a summer sail camp. I took the beginner course in 2005. Although I completed the beginner camp, the next summer I didn’t feel ready for the intermediate class. Fortunately, the instructor had an odd number of students, and she allowed me to participate in the camp again, as the partner for the unpaired student. I’ve also completed the “Crew Class” at the Hampton YC (HYC). What has been your sailing experience thus far, and what are your future plans? I learned to sail on a Collegiate FJ on the Elizabeth River. After taking the beginner sail camp for the second summer, the instructor informed us that the local yacht clubs had “practice” races on weeknights and encouraged us to participate. We were told to just show up at the HYC on a Wednesday night and ask if anyone needed an extra crew person for the night, so that’s what I did. It was basically a cold call. However, I was invited to sail on The Hunter, a 26-foot Hunter, and I continued to sail with them for about a year and a half. When the owner got out of racing for a while, I was encouraged to get on another boat, so I joined the crew of the J/105 Flying Colors for the rest of that summer. One day in 2006 or 2007, I was in the HYC locker room and saw a couple of ladies from ODU. They asked who I was sailing with and said, “You need to come sail with us.” They introduced me to the boat’s owner. I have been with that boat, the Pearson Flyer Bad Habit, ever since. I truly enjoy sailing, and I love the atmosphere of competitive racing. A crowded start is my favorite thing. If someone were interested in learning to sail, what would you tell them? You can take a class or read a book, but the best way to learn is to do it. Everyone I have sailed with has been eager to help me learn the sport. #