Hagan returns to hometown to compete in SAP 5O5 World Championship

Bill Wagner
Contact Reporterbwagner@capgaznews.com

Before there was Terry Hutchinson, there was Doug Hagan.

Hagan was the star junior sailor in Annapolis before Hutchinson assumed that mantel.

Hutchinson ultimately went on to enjoy an illustrious career as a professional sailor, one that has taken him to the highest levels of the sport.

Hagan went on to sail at Stanford before embarking on a career in the technology industry. The 1983 Annapolis High graduate has returned to his hometown this week to compete in the 2017 SAP 5O5 World Championship.

It’s a trip down memory lane for Hagan, who found himself standing on the same Severn Sailing Association dinghy lot that he spent so much time as a youth.

“Always good to be back in Annapolis doing some sailing,” Hagan said on Wednesday evening while making some last-minute adjustments to his boat.

Hagan grew up in Annapolis and attended St. Mary’s Elementary school. He transferred to Annapolis as a sophomore in high school, about the same time he emerged as a top-flight junior sailor.

Hagan came through the junior program at Severn Sailing Association, where his first instructor was Sandy Grosvenor. That’s the same Sandy Grosvenor who is now a World Sailing and US Sailing International race officer, judge and umpire. Grosvenor, race committee chair at Annapolis Yacht Club, is serving as principal race officer for the SAP 5O5 World Championship.

Hagan stamped himself as a real up and comer on the junior circuit by capturing the Club 420 National Championship in 1982. He was a 16-year-old junior at Annapolis High at the time and beat a fleet filled with adults off Newport, Rhode Island. Kevin Hagan crewed for his older brother, who earned an automatic berth in the 420 World Championships as a result.

Current North Sails professional Jonathan Bartlett was the head instructor at Severn Sailing Association at the time and traveled to Israel to coach Hagan at the 420 Worlds. Bartlett remembers Hagan as an extremely talented sailor with a strong competitive nature.

“Doug was very skilled, very determined and very driven,” Bartlett said. “Doug was passionate about the sport and wanted to be the best. He worked very hard and was hungry to learn as much as he possibly could.”

Hagan was a standout intercollegiate competitor at Stanford, from which he earned a mechanical engineering degree in 1988. He served six years in the United States Navy, serving aboard a guided missile frigate and doing two deployments to the Persian Gulf.

After earning a Master’s degree in computer science from the University of California-San Diego, Hagan moved to Hawaii and has lived in Maui for the last decade. He is married with an 8-year-old daughter and enjoys stand-up paddle surfing, kite surfing and traditional surfing.

“Life has been pretty good to me, for sure,” said Hagan, a software writer currently employed by a Washington, D.C. company that primarily deals with the military health care field.

Hagan has been racing in the International 5O5 class for almost two decades and has enjoyed mixed success. He finished 10th at the 2006 World Championship with Rob Woelfel as crew and most recently placed eighth out of 98 boats at the 2017 European Championship.

“I sail with good people,” Hagan said when asked the key to his success in the 5O5 class. Hagan guesses he has done 11 5O5 World Championships, placing 11th in 2015 with Paul Von Grey as crew.

Hagan is sailing with Shane Illidge as crew this week and is quite capable of winning a race during the 2017 SAP 5O5 World Championship. After all, the 52-year-old is quite familiar with Chesapeake Bay conditions.

“I would not be at all surprised if Doug won a race this week. He’s a master technician in light air,” said Bartlett, who runs the North Sails-Chesapeake loft.

This is the second world championship regatta in which Hagan has competed off Annapolis. He was still living here in 1984 when Severn Sailing Association hosted the Club 420 World Championship.

Shortly thereafter, Hagan’s parents moved to San Francisco and he has been pretty much West Coast-based ever since. Bartlett is one of the few Annapolis natives with whom he stays in contact.

“I don’t really keep in touch with too many of my friends from high school anymore,” lamented Hagan. “However, I will always have a special place in my heart for Annapolis. All the formative stuff happened here.”

Hagan estimates that any one of 10 teams could win the 2017 SAP 5O5 World Championship and does not put himself in that category. The Annapolis native comes in with the goal of finishing in the Top 10 out of 89 boats.

“I think it’s going to be a really interesting worlds. I’m as anxious as anyone to see what happens,” he said. “I’ve always been a light air guy so I could make some noise if I can string together some good starts.”

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