Jody Swanson Starck

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International Sailing Champion

The lake at Buffalo’s doorstep is one of her most precious natural resources, and has been an exciting sporting venue for many Buffalo athletes. Among competitive sailors who have learned their trade on local waters, none has enjoyed greater success than Jody (Swanson) Starck.

Trained in sailing by her father at an early age, Jody racked up an impressive record in local races before breaking through on the international scene with her 1984 victory in the Youth World Lightning Championship. For over 20 years since, Swanson has continued to win races in a variety of crafts, including Lightnings, J22’s, J24’s, 470’s (achieving a ranking of first nationally in that class among women racers in 1997), and Ynglings. She has captured a wide variety of sailing events, but a few stand out in significance. Jody is a two-time winner (1989 and 1993) of the Adams Cup, the U.S Women’s Sailing Championship, a winner of the Rolex International Keelboat Championship (1989), a Goodwill Games gold medal (1990), and an International Match Racing Championship (1994). Especially dear to Jody’s heart are the 2004 Lightning North American Championship, in which she was the first victorious female skipper in the co-ed event, and the 2004 Lightning North American Women’s Championship. For these efforts, Jody was recognized by Rolex and U.S. Sailing with the internationally prestigious Yachtswomen of the Year Award, an honor she also garnered in 1989. Swanson’s long reign at the pinnacle of her sport has also featured three U.S. Olympic team tryouts.

Competing in a sport where size, strength, and age take a back seat to skill and experience, Jody continues to race competitively. For her, the lure of the sport is its agelessness; in fact, her 2004 Women’s Lightning North American title, won with a crew of two 11-year-old junior sailors, is one of her greatest thrills in a long, distinguished career.

Jody is well-respected on the local sailing scene, not only for her record, but for the manner in which she promotes her chosen sport and contributes to a continuing influx of new sailors. She is an active mentor and coach for the annual Sean F. Gregory Memorial Lightning Pro-Am Regatta at the Buffalo Canoe Club, where she also coaches junior and pre-junior sailors on a day-to-day basis.

In a sport enjoyed by thousands on the Niagara Frontier, Jody (Swanson) Starck has achieved international sailing acclaim for herself, and her city. Tonight, the Western New York community is proud to induct this tireless competitor and ambassador into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.