Few of the inductees to the Lake Michigan Sailing Hall of Fame have had the opportunities to expose so many young people to sailing as Joseph "Joey" Harris. He was Director of Sailing for Columbia Yacht Club from 1993 to 2001, Head Sailing Coach at California Maritime Academy in 2001, Director of Sailing at St. Francis Yacht Club in 2002 and 2003, Director of Sailing at Grosse Pointe Yacht Club from 2003 to 2005, Director of Sailing for the City of Lake Forest from 2005 to 2009 and became the Manager of Sailing for the Chicago Park District in 2009 continuing through this date.
These opportunities had an inauspicious beginning. Joey’s mother, a Chicago school teacher, decided to teach summer school when Joey was about 10 years of age. To keep him on the good road, she enrolled him in the Columbia Yacht Club’s junior sailing program. Although trying hard, in the final race of the season Joey placed last. Beginning that fall he read every book about sailing he could find. In the following season’s championship he beat all other students. This action began his sailing career.
In grammar and high school Joey won many regattas. In 1988 he was selected to compete in the US Sailing Youth Championship held in Mission Bay, California. He was awarded Columbia Yacht Club’s Junior Sailor of The Year more times than anyone else. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1992 where he was on the sailing team and was Freshman Team Captain. His professional sailing career began with Columbia Yacht Club as Director of Sailing serving from 1993 to 2001. Moving on he served as Head Sailing Coach at California Maritime Academy (2001), Director of Sailing at St. Francis Yacht Club (2002-2003), Director of Sailing at Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (2003-2005), Director of Sailing for the City of Lake Forest (2005-2009) and since has served as Manager of Sailing for the Chicago Park District.
In addition to these positions he has served the Lake Michigan Sailing Racing Federation Board of Directors as Adaptive Sailing Committee Chair (2019 – present) and Youth Council Chair (2007-2013), US Sailing Board of Directors as Member at Large (2002-2004), US Sailing General Services Committee (2002-2005), US Sailing Junior Championship Committee (2004-2005), and US Sailing Instructor-Coaches Council (2005-2007).
Joey has won the W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Trophy – National Sportsman of the Year Award from US Sailing (1998) and US Sailing Community Sailing Award for Outstanding Adaptive Sailing Program (2014). This latter award was granted because of his success in merging two programs, the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Program and the Chicago Park District Rainbow Fleet, into one all-encompassing sailing program, The Judd Goldman Community Sailing Program. This program requires his supervision over participants, volunteers and staff for all sail training and racing programs including 16 seasonal positions, over 50 volunteers and more than 1,300 program participants each year and a fleet of over 50 boats.
While engaged in all these professional activities, Joey finds time to enjoy sail racing. He was a member of an Olympic Sailing Campaign in the Soling Class where his team placed 8th in the Pre-Trails. He placed 15th out of 73 in the Buzzards Bay Vanguard 15 Regatta. In 2016, Joey and teammates raced in the Conch Republic Cup, going from Key West, Florida to Varadero, Cuba, winning 2nd place. In 2017, his team won the NOOD Regatta-Chicago overall aboard the yacht Mutiny.
Joey has a Coast Guard Master Inland NMT 50 Ton License with the Sailing Endorsement, Great Lakes and Near Coastal Endorsements. He is a US Sailing Certified Club Race Officer, a First Aid and CPR Instructor, a US Sailing Certified Power Boating Instructor, Level 3 Coach Trainer, Level 2 Small Boat Instructor Trainer and Level 1 Small Boat Instructor trainer.
Joey has been instrumental in expanding opportunities for all children and adults to enjoy sailing. For example, through Joey’s leadership, the Chicago Park District and After School Matters, in partnership with Navy Pier, created a sailing apprenticeship program for high school students. The free 10-week program is designed to get students interested in various aspects of the marine industry. Students earn cash stipends at the conclusion of the apprenticeship as “completion awards.” Additionally, students who complete the course are eligible to apply for an internship with the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation through the Sports 37 program.
Joey was also instrumental in implementing the America’s Cup’s Endeavor Program in Chicago. The Endeavor Program introduces students to sailing as a way to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). In particular, the America’s Cup Endeavor Program partnered with the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Parks Foundation, and the Chicago Match Race Center to launch the program in Chicago, thereby allowing hundreds of Chicago students to use sailing as a way to apply their STEAM education curriculum on America’s Cup Endeavor boats. This program literally changes their perspective of both their lives and city life by actually getting them offshore on Lake Michigan and allowing them to look back to the city that they just left.
Joey’s career has provided so many people the opportunity to experience the value of the sport of sailing that the Board of Directors of Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation takes great pleasure in inducting Joey Harris into the Lake Michigan Sailing Hall of Fame.
August 17, 2019
Joseph “Joey” Harris was nominated by the Board of Directors of Jackson Park Yacht Club to the Lake Michigan Sailing Hall of Fame.