64 Parishes

Finding respite in 64 PARISHES during the COVID-19 crisis? Subscribe today to support our mission and contributors.

John Dane III

Louisianan John Dane III is a competitive sailor who has won championships at the helm of numerous sailing vessels.

John Dane III

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

John Dane III. Unknown

John Dane III is a competitive sailor who has won championships at the helm of numerous vessels. A New Orleans native who learned to sail on Lake Pontchartrain, Dane is the founder of the country’s largest yacht builder, Trinity Yachts; its New Orleans shipyard once housed Higgins Industries, which built the famed shallow-draft landing craft for Allied soldiers in World War II. An All-American sailor at Tulane University in the late 1960s, Dane was the oldest athlete to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Dane was introduced to sailing at an early age by his father. He went on to local, regional, national, and world championships in a variety of boats—Soling, Dragon, Laser, Windmill, and Star class, among others. He attended Tulane University, where he was a three-time All-American sailor and a fierce competitor in collegiate circles. In 1968 he was named Intercollegiate Sailor of the Year; he was elected to the Tulane Hall of Fame in 1985.

With a PhD in civil engineering, Dane worked for a time as a top official at Halter Marine before starting his first shipyard, Moss Point Marine, in 1980. He launched Trinity Yachts in 1988 as a division of Halter Marine; Dane and two partners bought it outright in 2000. Despite the demands of running a global business, Dane continued to sail competitively, winning numerous national and international championships. In 2008, after forty years of pursuing his dream of sailing in the Olympics, he became the oldest US Olympian to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, finishing twelfth overall in Star class with his son-in-law, Austin Sperry, as his crewman in the two-person, twenty-foot keelboat.

He nearly became an Olympian in 1968, when he sailed a borrowed Dragon class boat to a second-place finish at the Olympic trial. Dane’s determination drove him compete in more Olympic trials in 1972 (Soling class), 1974 (Finn class), and 1984 (Star class). His 2008 competition at the trials was all the more satisfying as his crewman was Sperry.

He has served as the commodore of the Pass Christian Yacht Club and has been active in such business and community concerns as the Navy League, the US Coast Guard Foundation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Tulane University Presidents’ Council, and the Society of Naval Architects. In 1998 he was named Maritime Man of the Year by the Propeller Club (Port of New Orleans), and he was honored as the Tulane University School of Engineering’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 2004.

Dane and his family currently make their home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.