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Now that he is coming up on his first full year as the Executive Director at the Geneva Lake Sailing School, Joe Kutschenreuter is reflecting on how exactly he ended up where he is today. Joe manages a staff of fifteen talented sailing instructors, all of whom are U.S. Sailing Certified and up-to-date on CPR and first aid training.
Joe’s passion for sailing actually started as a result of his fishing. When he was eight years old, Kutschenreuter’s father used to bribe him with night crawlers just to get him out on Lake Beulah to try his hand at sailing. It didn’t take long for Joe to become “hooked” on the sport, and he quickly learned to deeply appreciate sailing as a way of life.
“After a couple years at the sailing school I got really into the racing, and the regattas, and the competition was by far what excited me the most.”
Joe went on to do just about all he could to turn that excitement into an undeniably impressive resume of sailing success. He first became a head racing coach on Lake Beulah, and at a young age, he even went on to sail worldwide with his own team that he put together with neighborhood friends.
“My neighbor had a couple of kids my age, and his kids were really into it, and so we started up this sailing team. It was the Midwest Optimist Sailing Team, and we started traveling around the world.”
Kutschenreuter and the Midwest Optimist Sailing Team competed in places like Italy, Spain, Canada, and the Netherlands. These extravagant venues were not even the main headline of Joe’s sailing career, however. He was most proud of his time spent at UW-Madison.
“I went to Madison and joined the sailing team, which was the most fun I’ve ever had sailing. I was elected captain my junior year and helped them recruit their first full-time coach to help coach the team. We were ranked in the top 10 my senior year, which was pretty good for a team without varsity funding.”
The bottom line here? Joe Kutschenreuter has proven to be a prime choice for his position of Executive Director at the GLSS. His undeniable passion for sailing, demonstrated by the mentioned accomplishments, is only out-measured by his love for teaching at the sailing school.
“I have a better time teaching kids than I ever did while sailing. Every kid is different, and I love getting to know each one and finding out what they want to get out of the sport.”
Joe went on to describe how much he values seeing growth in students.
“Once I get to know them, it’s a matter of helping them and seeing their progression from the first day, and after a couple years, you can see how they’ve gone and you get to create a relationship with them.”
Anywhere between 20-50 new kids take lessons at the GLSS per week, with about 350-400 total people taking lessons. The long-standing sailing school frequently receives eager sailors of all skill levels and ages. Kutschenreuter emphasized that although the Lake Geneva Yacht Club and its services are exclusive to members, the Geneva Lake Sailing School will accept anyone with an interest in sailing.
“Absolutely. Anyone, member or not, can come over to the sailing school and take lessons, and get involved with any program that we offer.”
Getting involved with the school is simple. Those interested can go online at GLSS.org, or give Joe a call at the school at 262-275-8489. He is always more than happy to accommodate new students.
The GLSS and LGYC are in the process of fundraising in order to build a collaborative sailing facility called the Buddy Melges Sailing Center, named after sailing legend Harry “Buddy” Melges Jr. The website offers detailed instructions for those looking to contribute to the worthy cause. Kutschenreuter views the project as a huge opportunity.
“After 75 years, the sailing school is still growing every day, and I don’t think it’s going to ever stop growing.”
Kutschenreuter and his team of instructors are ambitious about continuing to build on the GLSS’s proven success, and there is no reason to believe that they will not prevail in doing so.