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Industry mourns well-known New York sailor

The sailing community lost one of its best owner/drivers and a pillar of the sport when John B. Thomson Jr., of Sands Point, N.Y., succumbed to the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, on Sept. 10.

Thomson, 70, was a beloved figure in his hometown and around the world, reads his online obituary. “Husband to wife Adrienne, father to three children and grandfather to more, he was also the steady and kindhearted owner of the Infinity yacht racing team, which won many regattas around the world through the course of 40 years of buoy and ocean racing, spanning from the early 1970s into the 21st century.”

Thomson began sailing at the age of 8, and later in life he would go on to own a series of yachts named Infinity. Among the many regattas he and his team won: the Kenwood Cup, SORC, Block Island Race Week, Key West Race Week, Antigua Race Week and the Around Long Island Race.

Thomson was a member of the New York Yacht Club, Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, Royal Cork Yacht Club and the Storm Trysail Club, which he served as commodore.

He was past director of the U.S. Naval Academy-Fales Committee and one of the benefactors that helped the New York Yacht Club purchase a satellite clubhouse in Newport, R.I.

He also was very active in owners’ associations for classes such as the International 50-Foot Association and the Farr 40 Class Association.

Thomson founded one of Long Island Sound’s greatest regattas, the Manhasset Bay Fall Series, in 1979. The regatta is a premier event on the East Coast and used by crews as a final tuneup before they head to the winter racing season in Florida. The overall trophy is named in honor of Thomson’s father, John B. Thomson Sr.

With his wife and family at his side, Thomson always steered his yachts and believed in an amateur crew, which often included lifelong friends. In his honor, the New York Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club together formed the John B. Thomson Award for Campaign Excellence.

A tribute and celebration of Thomson’s life will be held Sept. 26 at Manhasset Bay Yacht Club in Port Washington, N.Y., from 3 to 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Thomson’s honor be sent to The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, 42 Broadway, Suite 1724, New York, N.Y. 10004, or online at



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