Charleston skipper sails to national title

Kevin Jewett of Charleston skippered the winning boat at the 2013 National E Scow Championship sailed on Lake Geneva.

Kevin Jewett has been a Charleston resident for only a short time, yet he already has made a big impression in the local sailing community.

His most recent accomplishment came earlier this month when he skippered the winning boat at the 2013 E Scow National Championship Regatta held on Lake Geneva in Fontana, Wis.

Jewett’s crew included his wife Carolina, a Charleston native, and boat owner Jimmy Campbell and good friend David Buckley, both of Wisconsin.

“Nobody expected us to come in and win,” said Jewett, who was familiar with conditions on Lake Geneva because he was a sailing instructor there prior to moving to Charleston.

“That was definitely an advantage and a reason why we won,” he said.

This year’s E Scow Nationals was a three-day event that drew one of the largest fleets ever with 84 boats. E Scows are 28-foot boats with no keel, generally crewed by three to four sailors.

Jewett said he and his crew got off to a great start in the first race and finished second in a highly competitive group off boats. During the second race they dropped far back after making an error rounding the first mark and fell out of the top 15, but managed to scrap their way back and grab a third-place finish.

“That gave us the championship in the end,” Jewett said.

There were strong winds on Day 2, Jewett said, which favored his four-sailor team. They sailed conservatively in the first race of the day and placed sixth. After discussing strategy, they knew they needed a good finish to have a shot at winning the overall title. They took a few more risks at the start and were able to win the race.

On the final day they finished 10th in the opening race but their closest challenger ended up tipping over, and they were able to throw out a 12th-place finish in the final race.

Jewett, 39, said winning the title was even better because his father, who taught him to sail, also was competing in the event.

“It really is a big accomplishment in a big class. The E Scow is a big class here in Charleston, so for one of our guys to do the job like that is pretty sweet,” said Greg Fisher, who heads the College of Charleston sailing program. “He beat a lot of very good sailors, world champions and North American champions in different classes. It’s very impressive.”

Fisher said Jewett has done a good job of immersing himself in the Charleston sailing community since moving here. He met his wife, former College of Charleston sailor Carolina Davila, at a wedding in San Diego.

“I was introduced to her being from Wisconsin and she said the only reason she had been to Wisconsin was to sail E Scows. At that moment I knew I had met the woman of my dreams,” he said. “We dated long distance, got engaged in Charleston over Christmas 2011 and got married last March.”

Jerwett works with his father-in-law in the coffee business, coaches youth sailors and sails competitively.

“I had raced on Lake Geneva competitively over the past five years. I grew up in Minnesota and won one of my first major events on Lake Geneva. This was by far the biggest event I’ve ever won,” Jewett said.

“We’re working on building up the E Scow fleet in Charleston Harbor. It’s a wonderful place to race.”