Now that we’re into October and on the wrong side of the class’s Annual General Meeting where our class officers were reappointed for another term, we’ve decided that it’d be worth the effort to get to know some of them better for the latest in the “BKAV” series — our officers hail from New Jersey, Arizona, Connecticut, Washington State and New York, so they’re all over the place.  First up is our Class President, Dawn Kozak.  Dawn was appointed late last year after Dan Tucker stepped down, and has been a great ambassador for all things Viper, owning three boats since 2005 and racing up and down the east coast.  Dawn currently serves on the Board of Governors at Raritan Yacht Club in Perth Amboy, NJ in addition to chairing the club’s Red Grant Regatta, the largest keelboat regatta in the state of New Jersey, held each July.  Dawn is easy to find on the racecourse with her sky blue Viper with “D” flag spinnaker.  Most recently, Dawn attempted to host the 2012 AGM via VHF while swimming on Friday of NAs as the fleet waited for the breeze to fill.  Madam President, the floor is yours…

kozak head shot

Name: Dawn Kozak

Location: Perth Amboy, NJ

Viper(s) currently (or past) owned: #23 – Seize the Carpe, # 76, and #108 – Double D

Tell us a bit more about the origin of the name of your Viper: LOL! Despite its many connotations (none of which I will confirm or deny) Double D actually stands for Dawn’s Dinghy. The name came about while doing race committee for a J/24 regatta with friends. We had a good laugh and came up with 20+ possible meanings. One of these days I will get T-shirts made with the top 10 possible meanings.  PHOTO AT LEFT: Can’t find Dawn on the water?  Look for the spinnaker designed like a “D” flag.

How long have you been racing Vipers? Since 2003

Who introduced you to Viper sailing, and what drew you to the boat? We were looking for a boat that could be easily sailed by a small crew and found hull number 23 for sail on eBay. It had been donated to a sailing school in Colorado and it was too much boat for the small lake they sailed on. I never thought we would win the auction, but alas, it was meant to be. After my first time on the boat, I was hooked and the class was re-forming, so it was natural to get involved. We did all the upgrades and eventually sold 23 to help the class grow and we bought a new one.

What other boats have you raced and when did you first start? I started sailing/racing Optis and 420s at the age of 13, as part of the youth sailing program at Venice Yacht Club in Venice Florida. My family owned a few boats, but didn’t really start racing until we bought a Hunter 25.5, on which we won a couple of local events. I took a 10+ year hiatus from sailing while in college because I was land-locked and my parents decided to move to the dark side and “get there quicker”. (editor’s note: while to some this may suggest that Dawn’s parents bought a Viper, we think she means they bought a powerboat). When I moved to New Jersey in 1999, I started racing again on J/29s, a Farr 395, and various other friends’ boats.

Who are your regular crew / favorite people to sail Vipers with? Jerry Orabona and Anna Patrass are regular crew on my Viper and we seem to be pulling things together slowly but surely.

What do you do professionally? I am a professional Geek. I get to play with on-line systems that deliver training to a national sales force and implement strategies for using technology in training in new and creative ways. I love my job because I get to learn something new every day.

What do you like most about Vipers? The class. The boat is great – easy to sail and SOOOOO much fun. But, what makes it for me it the class and the great and friendly people that I have met along the way.

What is your favorite sailing event and why? Raritan Yacht Club’s annual Red Grant Regatta is one of my favorite events. I have been the regatta chair for the last two years and we attract large PHRF and one-design fleets, throw a great party and generally have great racing. Most importantly I love the fact that this regatta supports the Visiting Nurses Health Care Group of Central New Jersey and we have raised over $10,000 for this charity in the last two years. Hopefully next year will be even better.

dawn downwind red grant

Dawn (forward crew), ensuring that the waters of Raritan Bay are safe for Viperers at the 2012 Red Grant Regatta. Photo courtesy Pim van Hemmen.

What’s most frequently played on your iPod these days? Green Day, Dave Matthews, and Disco (just because it makes me smile)

Read any good books recently? I read a book every week or two. The last two, which I enjoyed a lot are The Last Kahn (by Geoff Hammond) and Savage Bay (by Christopher Forrest).

What’s one thing that you’d want people from the Viper class to know about you that they probably don’t? I spend most of my day connected in one way or another, with an average email count of 1,000 per day. If you email me and I don’t get back to you right away it’s not because I don’t care, it’s just that there is only so much time in the day. If you need me immediately text me!

What sails do you use? Evolution currently, but considering a change for next year.

What will you do to not miss sailing this winter? Finish unpacking and settling into my new house. Sailing season started shortly after I closed, so I am still not quite settled. Besides the boring stuff, I hope we get lots of snow because my husky was very unhappy last year!

What are your Viper plans for 2013? Confirmed we are doing Miami in March, the ACCs, and the NAs in Houston. The rest is still up for debate.

Why did you decide to throw your hat in the ring to become an officer of the Viper class? I was asked and I have a hard time saying no. In all seriousness, I love this class and everything it stands for, so it was easy to say yes to fill the spot vacated when Dan went to work for Rondar. It is my honor and pleasure to help the class continue to grow and thrive.

What is your favorite part about being an officer of the Viper class? The people on the EC are phenomenal and extremely accountable, so it’s an easy job.

What are your goals for the development of the class and of the boat? I would love to see a fleet develop in the Mid-Atlantic region. This is a great area to sail in and there is lots of potential. In addition to my home area, I am focused on finding ways to help grow other fleets and continue to break records for regatta attendance.

Want to hear more from Dawn about why she likes to sail Vipers?  Check out the YouTube video below from 2012 Charleston Race Week: