About John Connolly
John Connolly ‘71 was born in June of 1947 in New York City and began sailing on Long Island Sound in an 18-ft. Pennant at the age of eight. John was single handing the boat by the age of 10. After beginning his career as a rock show promoter and business owner, John founded the Modern Sailing Academy in 1983. Starting as a small sailing venture, under John’s guidance the Academy blossomed into a world-class outfit, winning the American Sailing Association’s “School of the Year” award for numerous years.

As Head Instructor, John taught advanced sailing classes on the San Francisco Bay and along the California Coast, and his extensive historical and political knowledge enhanced his international sailing instruction. He led more than one hundred offshore sailing courses overseas in many locations including the South Pacific, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Seychelles Islands, Africa, and Alaska. John’s talent for teaching and love of sailing resulted in more than 80% of his students returning to take courses with him.

In addition to sailing instruction, John held patents for several marine safety inventions including:

  • Ice Angel, a heavy-duty telescopic pole designed for fire departments to rescue victims from a body of icy water;
  • Swift Water Angel, a lightweight device that can be used in any type of swift water environment;
  • LifeScoop, a crew overboard recovery system; and
  • An oil leak containment system for large container shipping vessels.

John also created and served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Public Dialogue in Sausalito, CA. The Institute for Public Dialogue provides a venue in which voters can post their thoughts and concerns, stimulating dialogue among the public to entice political leaders to join the conversation. The forum promotes structured, level communication between candidates, and allows them to more adequately explain their positions. The institute’s agenda has been featured in various news outlets, including The Huffington Post. John’s business was sailing and his heart was in making the world a safer and more egalitarian place for people to engage in the political process.

When asked about what inspired him, John said, “There’s the experiential aspect of sailing: the wind, the waves and all that. Then there’s the adventure of going places – either to new places or visiting places again that I’ve enjoyed. That’s what motivates me.”1

1. Latitide 38, February 2010, LaDonna
About the Scholarship
The John Connolly Memorial Sailing Team Scholarship was established in August of 2014 in memory of John by his family and friends. John Connolly ’71 was a leader on campus and active member of the University of Maryland Sailing Team. John spent much of his life teaching advanced sailing courses around the world and fostered a love of sailing in many of those who learned from him. The purpose of this Scholarship is to support students who are active on the University of Maryland Sailing Team who also demonstrate academic merit and financial need.

* There is not a sailing performance or sailing ability criteria to receive the scholarship, nor is there a sailing performance or sailing ability criteria to be a member of the UMD Sailing Club.

The University of Maryland
Division of Student Affairs ▪ Office of Development and External Relations
8400 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 200 ▪ College Park, MD 20740
sagiving@umd.edu ▪ (301) 314-4900