by Peter Durant
Sail America, the trade association for the U.S. sailing industry, elected five new members to its 2014 Board of Directors: Jim Abel, West Marine; Mark Pillsbury, Cruising World; Bob Ross, Seattle Sailing Club; Erin Schanen, SailingMagazine; and Ben Wold, NMMA.
Sail America logo
The new Sail America Directors will join the existing Board including Stanton Murray (Board President), Murray Yacht Sales; Jeff Johnstone (Board Treasurer/Secretary), J/Boats; Greg Emerson (VP Shows), Marlow-Hunter, LLC; Scot West (VP Association), Ronstan USA; Jay Stockmann (VP Marketing), Vetus Maxwell; Josh Adams (Past President), US Olympic Sailing; Kevin Coughlin, New England Ropes; Laurent Fabre, Beneteau America; Jack Gierhart, US Sailing; Kyle Gross, APS; Jahn Tihansky, U.S. Naval Academy; and Kimo Worthington, North Sails.
The Sail America Board says farewell with thanks for their service to Sally Helme, Bonnier; Carl Blackwell, NMMA; and Bob Buckborough, West Marine.
New Board Director bios follow:
Jim Abel has been with West Marine since 1983 and currently supports the team of Store Associates in the Northeast Region. In his role as Regional Vice-President, he is responsible for all aspects of customer service, associate relations, sales and store operations for the stores in Mid-Atlantic, New England, Great Lakes, and Ontario, Canada.
Jim has been involved in many levels of West Marine store operations for 29 years. He gained a wealth of experience managing store locations in Maryland and Florida, and acting as Western Florida District Manager and Regional Manager working in the West Marine Watsonville Support Center. Jim was promoted to West Central Regional Vice-President in June 2007 and transferred to become Northeast Regional Vice-President in February 2012. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.
In 2004, Jim was honored as the recipient for the Walter Scott Excellence in Leadership Award. The Walter Scott is awarded annually by West Marine to the individual associate who demonstrates outstanding leadership within the organization.
A lifelong boater, Jim grew up sailing, water skiing and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. He enjoys spending time with his family and continues to be involved with every aspect of family boating, which often incorporates boat restoration, saltwater tournament fishing, sailing, kayaking, and wakeboarding.
Mark Pillsbury is the Editor of Cruising World magazine and its related digital publications, all based in Newport, Rhode Island. Cruising World, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2014, focuses on the sailing and liveaboard lifestyle, offers technical, hands-on advice about seamanship, maintenance, and other technical topics, and is the go-to source for new boat information.
Prior to assuming the role of Editor-in-Chief in 2010, he was the magazine's Senior Editor and Director of the Boat of the Year program, which annually inspects the cruising sailboats being introduced into North American markets at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis. As Senior Editor, he worked with the staff and freelancers on technical articles, as well as writing feature stories and sailboat reviews.
Mark is a lifelong sailor and enjoys both racing and cruising. Prior to joining the staff of the magazine in 2005, he worked as an Editorial Manager at a variety of news and business publications in the Boston area, where he also served as a volunteer on industry and nonprofit boards.
Bob Ross has been in the recreation industry his whole life and in the marine industry for over 35 years. Bob is the owner of Sail Northwest, the local dealer for J/Boats, MJM Yachts, and a sail and powerboat brokerage. In 2002, Bob bought the Seattle Sailing Club. At the time the club had 90 members offering unlimited day-sailing and teaching as many as 150 sailing lessons per year. Today the Seattle Sailing Club has over 350 members and gives 800 sailing lessons per year.
His involvement in the boating community is evident by currently serving on the Northwest Yacht Brokers Association Sailboat Committee and in addition to serving as past treasurer of NBYA he has served on the Board of Directors of NYBA and Corinthian YC of Seattle.
In 1984 Yachting Magazine cancelled Whidbey Island Race Week, one of the top ten regattas in the US and the premier NW sailing event. Bob thought it important to the sailing community to keep the event alive and with a partner he started Northwest Marine Productions and saw its successful production through its 25th anniversary. Today Bob's companies-Sail Northwest and Seattle Sailing Club-are still involved sponsors.
Bob first contacted Sail America in 1998 to bring the Discover Sailing Program to the Seattle Boats Afloat Boat Show. Since then, Bob has provided space, boats, and people to run the program. Bob has worked hard to not only keep Discover Sailing a major feature of Boats Afloat, but also to expand the program to include seminars and on-the-water skill building classes.
Erin Schanen is the executive editor of SAILING Magazine, the oldest continually published sailing magazine in the U.S. Erin joined the magazine in 2000.
Prior to that she was features editor of the Waukesha Freeman, a southeastern Wisconsin daily newspaper, and the media liaison aboard the M/Y NorthStar during the 1999-2000 America's Cup in New Zealand, working with ESPN and TVNZ television crews.
A lifelong sailor, Erin grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan, cruising and racing on the Great Lakes. She races on a variety of boats, from dinghies to Santa Cruz 70s, and cruises and paddleboards when she can. She is a member of the Port Washington Yacht Club. Erin lives with her husband Rich Reichelsdorfer in Belgium, Wisconsin.
Ben Wold is the Executive Vice-President for the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), assuming the role in 1999. He is responsible for the production of the 22 consumer boat and sportsmans shows produced by NMMA throughout the United States each year.
Ben started his career at NMMA immediately after completing his education in 1977. He was hired as an operations manager for the Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show and the International Marine Trades Exhibition & Conference (IMTEC).
Prior to being named Executive Vice-President, Ben served as a Show Manager, Regional Show Manager, and Vice-President for NMMA's Shows department. He has served on several boating and outdoor industry boards and committees, and is a past two-term President of the International Federation of Boat Show Organizers (IFBSO). He serves on the IFBSO Executive Committee. He is currently a member of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Board of Directors.
Ben received a bachelor's degrees in English and Art from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He resides in Wilmette, IL with his wife, Luan, and daughters, Alex and Emma.