Jean and Don Bergman met in the mid-1970s at Sheridan Shore Yacht Club in Wilmette, Illinois. Each had been involved in the sport of sailing for many years before: Jean as Director of Winnetka Yacht Club’s Junior Fleet sailing program and Don’s exposure from his father’s involvement as a founder of Sheridan Shore Yacht Club.
They married in 1976 and established their home in Winnetka, Illinois. They were very active in Winnetka Yacht Club activities, being key players in the “Super Sail Regatta” and club planning. Sailing off the beach was very popular and the Bergmans were leaders in this formation. Jean was Chair of the 1985 Sunfish Womens North American Championship sailed on Lake Michigan off Winnetka.
Don and Jean raced Sunfish sailboats early on and continued doing so after marrying. They participated in a regional sailing event sponsored by Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in the 1980s and realized their happiness would continue by moving to the east side of Lake Michigan. They purchased a home in Holland, Michigan and joined Macatawa Bay Yacht Club.
Jean and Don have won many regattas at the local, regional, national and international level. Jean has three top-three finishes at the Sunfish Masters World Championship, one top-ten finish at the Sunfish World Championship, four Sunfish Womens North American Championship titles, and top finishes in Regional events. She served as the Sunfish Class President from 1994 to 2002. Don has won the Sunfish Masters World Championship three times and had podium finishes four other times. He has three top-ten finishes at the Sunfish World Championship and has won the Sunfish National Championship. He has had many Regional top finishes.
Both Jean and Don share their knowledge of sailing with new Class members. For their support of the Sunfish Class together, they have been voted Life Memberships by the International Sunfish Class Association World Council.
They joined Macatawa Bay Yacht Club in 1989 and since have made a huge impact on the local sailing community by supporting the junior sailing and womens sailing programs. For ten years they have run the Ladies JY 15 race series twice a week (using their own power boat and equipment to set the race course) and have held chalk talks after every outing. Via these talks they are able to convey lessons on improving sailing skills, having fun on the water, and sportsmanship.
Jean and Don also own an S2 7.9 sailboat, Second Wind, which they raced in the local fleet. They have won the S2 7.9 Class Championship Regatta four times. They have campaigned this vessel in open events and most all of the Wednesday night “beer can” races.
Jean and Don are highly recognized, and some would say iconic, figures, not only in the regional community, but nationally as well. They are true role models for young people entering the sport. They conduct themselves with integrity, sportsmanship and class on and off the water. Most importantly, they consistently demonstrate love for the sport while loving each other.
It is an honor for the Board of Directors of Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation to induct Jean and Don Berman into the Lake Michigan Sailing Hall of Fame.
October 10, 2020
Jean and Donald Bergman were nominated by the Board of Directors of Macatawa Bay Yacht Club to the Lake Michigan Sailing Hall of Fame.