Brian Kitchin is standing at the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club in New Jersey. He’s grown up sailing for the Junior Sailing Team at the club, and as he talks to us on the phone, he’s on his lunch break from teaching sailing, so this isn’t an unusual place for him to be. What’s out of the ordinary about Brian, though, is that on August 2nd, the day after we talk to him, he’ll be leaving his hometown to compete in a national sailing championship in Ohio.
Brian is actually a third generation competitive sailor; both his grandfather and father competed in national championships. He’s been sailing since he was a little kid.
“I would go around to various regattas in a small, one-person boat for kids around the state. When I got a little bit older, I started crewing for my father and going to competitions around the country in a three-person boat called a thistle. When I was 16, I bought one for myself, and ever since then, for the past 12 years, I’ve been racing them myself, at Atlantic Coast and District Championships.”
The District Championships are local, held in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Atlantic Coast is the entire East Coast region. Then there’s the big one: Nationals, which is held at different places all over the country.
When it comes to Nationals, Brian’s “top finish [was] in 2009” when he “finished second in the nation, out of 102 boats.” When asked about his goal for this year, he tells us “I was hoping to win.”
We know the competition’s stiff; Brian tells us that “there are a lot of professionals” competing; “they are the sail makers” and the “boat builders”. That’s part of the reason we find Brian to be so impressive: unlike national competitors who are professionals in the sailing industry, he’s been able to achieve second place in Nationals while balancing his own training with a full-time job as a Phys. Ed. teacher at Adamsville Primary School in Bridgewater and the Head Sailing Instructor at the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club in the summers.
What else is admirable about Brian Kitchin? He truly lives the healthy and active lifestyle he teaches to his students.
“I want to live a nice, long, fun, fulfilling life, and in order to do that, you’ve got to stay healthy. And my preferred method for that is getting out and getting active and doing a lot of things outdoors, as opposed to spending a ton of time going to run on a treadmill or being inside a gym. I do that, too, but what I enjoy doing is being outside.”
And what kinds of physical activity does he enjoy doing outside (besides sailing, of course?)
“I own both a mountain bike and a road bike. I like biking a lot more than I like running, so I’ll do mountain biking on some trails. I’ll also hop on the road bike and sometimes I’ll ride around the lake [Lake Hopatcong.] Three summers ago, I literally did that ride every morning before I came to teach sailing. I lived a mile from the yacht club, but instead of going one mile to the club, I would hop on my bike and ride the other way around the lake and go 30 miles to the club.”
Brian’s also “a big fan of hiking. [He’s] gone up to the White Mountains, and even local things like going up to the Delaware Water Gap and climbing up top.”
While he doesn’t mind going hiking by himself, he “usually [goes] with somebody.” That “somebody” usually means his brothers or his father.
“I spent a lot of time on the Delaware River and in the Delaware River valley as a kid fishing. When we were younger, we’d go up with the canoe or kayaks and bring backpacks and camp. We’d go to Port Jervis and we’d paddle down the river and stop at one of the campsites along the way, and get picked up somewhere in the vicinity of the Delaware Water Gap.”
Brian also has a favorite state park: Hopatcong State Park. As you might have guessed, it’s “right in front of where [he sails] and literally a mile from where [he lives.]”
“I’ve been there a bunch of times as kid,” Brian explains “both in the summer and winter. We’d go sleigh riding in the winter, and in summertime, there’s a beach, some picnic areas, basketball courts, and they’ve got a little historic museum.” The museum’s got “cool pictures of the lake for the past 100, 150 years. Different buildings and hotels used to be here; many of them have since burned down.” This lake’s got a rich history, and “you can see it in the state park and the museum.”
We love that Brian uses the outdoors for exercise, enjoyment, and to stay connected to his family. He’s got the best of both worlds: a fulfilling small-town life in a place he loves and enjoyable teaching jobs, and the opportunity to act on his “real passion” of competitive sailing, traveling nationally, in Ohio, San Diego, Washington, Oregon, Florida, and everywhere else (and even internationally in Canada.) We’re wishing him all the luck in achieving his goals of winning Nationals this year and staying healthy and active throughout life, and we’re inspired that he’s working towards achieving them by being outdoors and visiting some of our favorite places: state parks. Mountains conquered? That’s pretty much a “check”.