Industry mourns Great Lakes sailracer

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Jerome “Jerry” Schostak, who was known for cultivating one of the most successful Great Lakes sailing programs, died May 9. He was 80.

Franklin, Mich.-based Schostak jumped into serious competition when he chose to replace his venerable Swan 44 with a new custom 50-footer he called Fujimo, which was barely completed in time for the 1985 SORC in Florida, according to Scuttlebutt. The Mackinac Racer wrote an account of the race at the time.

A collection of 50-footers soon formed a racing series.

Robert Vaughan wrote about Schostak in a June 12, 1988, account in The New York Times in an article titled “A New Breed of Corporate Skipper.”

The following is an excerpt from the article:

Jerome Schostak, who is chairman of the board of Schostak Brothers & Company, a commercial and industrial real estate development organization in Southfield, Mich., is owner and skipper of Fujimo, the winning boat at the Miami 50s, wrote Vaughan. Schostak, 54, is a lean man with penetrating eyes and a polished, executive manner. He has a passion for details. In a waterproof bag hanging behind the helm of his boat is a cellular telephone. During the Miami 50s regatta, a large Federal Express packet was delivered to Schostak each day from his office; he did the work at night and shipped a return packet to the office the following morning.

Schostak began sailing as a teenager. He came to purchase a 50-footer under pressure from three of his four sons, who are executives in the family business and race on the boat. Like many of todays owner/skippers, Schostak has written the skippers job description to suit his talents. Im old enough to stay off the pointy end, he says, and there are others who steer better than I. So I organize the boat, keep the momentum going, make sure we are as prepared as possible at all times. On Fujimo, Jerry Schostak is known as Dr. O, as in organization.

John Bertrand, an Olympic medalist whom Schostak has enlisted to drive his boat, gives Schostak high marks as a manager. He reminds us about gear that is giving us trouble, makes appropriate comments and suggestions during the heat of battle, pulls us back when we get a little radical, always has a good sense of the big picture, Bertrand says. That allows me to concentrate on what I have to do. And he has a great attitude when we lose, very up, talking immediately about the next race. Thats good leadership.

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