His sailing career blossomed early after the Thompson family moved to Long Beach in the 1940’s where he sailed a Naples Sabot in Alamitos Bay. In consecutive years 1952 and 1953, he was Junior National Champion of the Naples Sabot class. The Naples Sabot class is the Southern California breeding ground for multiple Olympic and Americas Cup sailing champions. In 2005, Jerry came back to claim the Sabot Masters championship. Most recently, he had commissioned a hand built wooden Sabot, which he regularly sailed in his 70’s on the local Sabot circuit. He also recently campaigned in the Lido 14 class winning the class championship trophy with his girlfriend and crew Mandi Smith in 2012. Jerry was a long time distinguished member of Alamitos Bay Yacht Club and he served as Commodore of the club in 1971.
At Long Beach Wilson High School, Jerry was a standout basketball player on the Varsity squad earning all-city and all-coast honors. Following High School, he went into the family business and later became the owner of Bailey Manufacturing, which produces rehabilitation and physical therapy equipment. This business venture took the Thompson family including Jerry, his wife Nancy, daughter Kim, and son Brad to Akron, Ohio for several years in the 1970’s. The family then returned to Jerry’s sailing roots in Long Beach.
Jerry’s sailing resume will best be remembered for his time in the International Snipe Class. He arguably has logged more hours at the tiller, sailed in more regattas, and owned more Snipes than any sailor in the history of the class, which boasts more than 30,000 boats. He sailed his first Snipe in Alamitos Bay at the age of 13 and later qualified for the prestigious Snipe Western Hemisphere Championship in Bermuda at age 17 where he placed fourth. Since that time, Jerry has sailed in multiple World, Western Hemisphere, North American, and US National Championships. In 1975, he was North American Champion and in 1988 he served as Commodore of the Snipe Class International Racing Association. His Snipe career extended into the Masters circuit where he was a seven time US National Champion. He was a true Corinthian who earned the admiration and respect of sailor’s worldwide for his sailing skills, camaraderie, and boyish pranks. The Snipe class mission statement is “Serious Sailing, Serious Fun.” Nobody lived that motto more than Jerry Thompson.
Jerry is survived by his brother, Lee Thompson, his son Brad Thompson, his daughter-in-law Mary Thompson, and granddaughters Hailey and Samantha Thompson. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jerry’s memory to the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club Junior Program, the Snipe US Perpetual Fund,and the American Cancer Society.
A celebration of Jerry’s life will be held on his birthday on January 30 at 2 pm at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in Long Beach, California.