Jonathan Thurston shares his water adventures and the powerful drive of his sports passion, leading him to the world of sailing!

1. How did you first get into sailing?

I first got into sailing twenty-five years ago crewing on a J-22. Quite quickly I fell in love with the freedom of being on the water and the competitive spirit of one-design racing. Since that first race, I have immersed myself in learning how to sail by reading voraciously and picking the brains of local experts.

Today I sail nearly year-round. J-22’s in the summer through Sail Newport, and frostbiting from January to April at the Newport Yacht Club.

2. Have you had any disaster scenarios, failures, or simple problems in your sailing career that have given you a valuable lesson as a result?

Narragansett Bay can be a challenging place to sail with changeable weather and a significant current that often dictates tactics. I distinctly remember a line squall that popped up suddenly that was not originally in the forecast. Boats to the north quickly became distressed. Our crew took the necessary precautions to not suffer the same fate. It is clear that sailors, regardless of geography, need to understand weather and local conditions in order to be safe and competitive.

3. If there’s one thing you can tell new sailors when they are just introduced to the sport, what would you tell them?

As someone who did not grow up sailing, it did not come instinctively. Many sailors “have a feel” for how they race or sail because of starting at a young age. I essentially learned by applying lessons learned and learning on the job.

The lesson is there is more than one way to learn how to sail, but the common denominator is that you should never stop learning how to improve your love for a great sport/pastime.

4. What advice would you tell a new sailor to ignore? What are bad recommendations you hear about sailing?

Sailing is a multifaceted sport with aspects of geometry and physics combined with a necessary spatial awareness that can often seem daunting at first. A new sailor needs to receive patient instruction and be encouraged to accept making mistakes and understand that mistakes lead to growth and improvement.

Sailing often is seen as an exclusive sport, yet there are so many ways to access sailing without owning a boat or spending lots of money on club dues. I am a perfect example of this.

5. Who most influenced your life when it comes to sailing?

While there is not one person who inspired me in the beginning, my thirst for the sport and desire to improve has led me to be unabashed about asking questions. There are so many people in the Newport sailing landscape who are very willing to share their expertise – if only they are asked.

6. Outside of sailing, what is something that you love to do; something that makes you feel alive?

That is a hard question as my professional life is now all about the yachting scene, and most of my free time is spent sailing competitively. I would say that I do love to expand my knowledge of sailing, and the physics of rope, rigging, and making sure I am always on the right side of the Narragansett Bay current.

About Jonathan Thurston

Jonathan is the owner of Lanex Yachting USA and is the North American distributor for Lanex Cordage, and the US distributor for Barton Marine UK. Jonathan came to sailing relatively late in his career, but very quickly fell in love with competing on Narragansett Bay. For the past twenty five years he has been a regular of the Sail Newport J-22 circuit. In his capacity as owner of Lanex, he has amassed an in-depth knowledge of the physics of how best to create a safe environment in all aspects of yachting whether cruising or competing at the highest level.

Certified to Teach:

  • Rope/Cordage Theory: The course covers all aspects of the physics of rope.
    •  Care and maintenance of ropes;
    • Load of individual types;
    • Material make up of covers and core of cruising and high performance line;
    • Fitting the best use of line to its function on the boat
  • Class 1 Splicing: In this course, you’ll learn all the uses of learning a class 1 splice. The essence of splicing is taking out the core of a polyester line and reinserting the core into the cover to increase the strength of any connection.
    • For example, a knot will lose 40-45% of the line strength versus only 5% loss when using a splice. Class 1 splices work with core polyester and polyester cover ropes. These splices are primarily used to secure shackles to halyards and beckets onto a block.
  • Soft Attachments: This course will teach participants how to use HMPE line to create continuous loops and soft shackles. Continuous loops are often used with friction rings. Friction rings are an alternative to surface-mounted hardware without sacrificing strength. They allow you to move line direction without a block. Soft shackles come in various sizes (class will make 6mm) and are used to temporarily secure spliced eyes and still maintain high load strength.


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