As the Director of Recreational Sailing and Administration, Clare manages the recreational aspects of the sailing school, including camps, evening programs, adaptive sailing, and partnerships. Additionally, she manages the administration of registrations, marketing, communications, and fundraising.
At Lake Minnetonka Sailing School, Clare Leeper has taught Little Skippers, Pram Camp (Rec 7-9), YMCA programming, and spearheaded our Adaptive Sailing Program, which she started in 2021 and has since grown to include over 30 sailors of all ages and abilities from across the state of Minnesota. While working full time for the sailing school last year, Clare graduated summa cum laude from the Loyola Maryland Honors Program in May 2023 with an interdisciplinary major in English Literature and Creative Writing, along with a minor in Special Education.
Clare grew up sailing at Minneapolis Sailing Center and Wayzata Community Sailing Center, where she was an active member of the Edina High School and Benilde-St. Margaret’s Sailing teams. Clare also sailed on the LMSS 420 Summer Race Team, where she fell in love with Lighthouse Island and everything that LMSS has to offer.
When she’s not on Lighthouse Island (or swimming in front of the island after a long day of work), Clare loves walking around the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis, traveling, spending time with friends, practicing yoga, and eating sweet treats (particularly pastries, dessert bars, and ice cream, if you ever want to make her day🤪). Her favorite part of the work week is teaching Adaptive Sailing.
Clare is US Sailing Level 1, 2, and 3 (Head Instructor) Certified and won the LMSS Sportsmanship Award in 2021.
As the LMSS Racing & Operations Director, Samuel manages all things racing. He is the head coach for our high school, middle school, and club race teams, and he is responsible for LMSS equipment, facilities, staff training, and business management. He is also a certified US Sailing Level 3 Coach and the Junior Director for the DN Ice Yacht Racing Association of North America.
Samuel’s sailing experience is extensive. He grew up sailing on Lake Minnetonka at both LMSS and Wayzata Sailing, and he founded his high school sailing team at Orono. He attended the University of Wisconsin - Madison from 2018 to 2022, where he was a student-athlete and Captain of the UW Sailing Team. He graduated with a double major in Psychology and Chinese.
Some of the success that Samuel has achieved in sailing include the following:
2016 ISSA Great Oaks National Championship, 1st Place
2015 & 2016 MISSA Great Lakes Championship, 1st Place
2016 & 2017 ISSA Singlehanded Nationals (Cressy)
2016 ISSA Atlantic Coast Championship, 2nd Place
2021 US Match Racing Championship, 10th Place
2021 ICSA Match Racing National Championship, 5th Place
Attended 7 ICSA College National Championships
2023 A Scow National Championship, 2nd Place
Samuel’s favorite boats to sail include the DN Iceboat, E Scow, J70, Melges 24 and ILCA. When he’s not using his free time to race sailboats, you can find him fly fishing the streams and rivers of the “Driftless” region in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Gordy has done more for the sport of sailing than nearly anyone else in the past 60 years. While Gordy has numerous accolades and accomplishments, he is known most for being the Head Coach of the US Sailing Team at the 1988 Olympics in South Korea. At this Olympics, the US Sailing Team earned the most medals of any team: 1 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze. His other noteworthy achievements include the following:
National Sailing Hall of Fame
ILYA Hall of Fame
Champion, Finn North American 1969
Champion, US Single-handed, 1968, 1969
US Olympic Team Tuning Partner 1976
US Sailing Team 1968-1970, 1978-1980
Champion, DN Iceboat Northwest 1973
Champion, A Scow ILYA 1993
Champion, C Scow National 1985, 1986
Champion, E Scow National 1977, 1978
Champion, MC Scow ILYA 1992
World Champion, 5.5 Meter 1967
For the past 20 years, Gordy has been giving back to the sport by coaching youth sailors at the Lake Minnetonka Sailing School. He arrives at least an hour early to youth practices so that he can discuss his most recent thoughts and ideas for improvement with the coaches, and he’s always on the move. Gordy truly makes every second count.
Gordy has worked for decades to refine his methods for communicating and teaching sailing concepts to people of all ages and skill levels. Moreover, he has a unique ability to connect with people in a way that instills a powerful sense of confidence and self worth within them. Gordy has made it his mission to be a positive and supportive role model for the kids that he coaches.
In the past 20 years alone, Gordy’s pupils have gone on to win numerous regional and national level regattas, including over 10 X Boat ILYA Championships, ICSA Women’s Fleet Racing Nationals, the US 470 National Championship, the Extreme Sailing Series, the US Sailing Match Racing Championship, the World Match Racing Tour, and many more. Some of his pupils have even become coaches and/or athletes for the US Sailing Team, Sail GP, and the America’s Cup.
Gordy has been a guiding force in the lives of thousands of sailors in Lake Minnetonka, the Midwest, and the United States, and he has earned the respect of some of sailing’s biggest names. We at LMSS are beyond grateful to have Gordy with us as a coach and advisor.
2024 Summer Race Team Coaches
Learn to Race (LTR) and Race Teams
Hello! My Name is Meredith Weston and I am thrilled to be a Co-Head Opti Learn to Race coach for LMSS. I am a Sophomore (rising Junior in summer 2024) at University of Minnesota Twin Cities and I have been sailing my whole life. I grew up sailing optis, X scows and 420s on Lake Winnebago and I fell in love with the community that sailing creates. I have been coaching optis for three years at Oshkosh Yacht Club and I love spending my summers out on the water. I worked as an assistant Opti coach for two years and the head Opti coach at Oshkosh for one. I am super excited to have lots of fun and lots of sailing this summer!
Hi! My name is Evy, and I am excited to be back for my third year in the Opti Learn to Race program as Co-Head Coach. I spent a lot of time on Lake Minnetonka growing up, but I didn’t start sailing until 5th grade. I found my love for sailing after taking an LMSS Sonar lesson with my family. From there, I’ve sailed Optis and 420s with LMSS. I’ve been on the Minnetonka High School sailing team for the last 6 years, and I will be graduating from Minnetonka this spring. As a two-year captain of the high school team, it has been one of my favorite parts of high school. On the team, I’ve driven 420s, FJs, and Lasers and sailed all across the country. In addition to coaching in the summer, I sail for the Minnetonka Yacht Club. I mainly sail Melges 15s and E scows, but I have also sailed on X and A scows, along with some keelboats. I don’t know what school I am going to yet, but I plan to major in Chemical Engineering and sail competitively in college. Outside of sailing, I love spending time on the lake, hanging out with friends, and traveling. I can’t wait to meet all of the Opti sailors this summer and help everyone improve their skills while having fun on the water!
My name is Nigel Yu. I started sailing at eight years old at LMSS and have created this sport into a passion since. I haven’t sailed in many types of boats, but I make up for the lack of diversity through my expertise on the few boat types I do sail, like the 420 or, previously, the opti. I’ve competed in many TCYS, high school and college conference regattas as a skipper throughout the midwest. I am a freshman majoring in neurobiology at UW Madison in my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, reading, hockey, martial arts, skiing, and traveling. I look forward to coaching the upcoming LTR opti sailors this summer at LMSS!
My name is Kate Ness. I am currently a Freshman (rising Sophomore summer 2024) at Baylor University studying business. I am from Wayzata, Minnesota and spent the whole of my childhood sailing at Lake Minnetonka Sailing School. I have been a member of the pram, Opti, laser, X-boat, and 420 programs at LMSS. I love the island and being able to help give back to the incredible community I grew up with.
I have formally done work with private lessons and have taught the Opti race team for the last 2 years. I cannot wait for this summer and all that it has in store!
My name is Katie Hanley and I am a Sophomore (rising Junior in summer 2024) at the College of Charleston, studying Commercial Real Estate Finance and Hospitality. From Minnetonka, Minnesota, I grew up sailing on Lake Minnetonka and have been a part of the Lake Minnetonka Sailing School since I was seven years old in Prams. I was a member of the Opti, 420, and X Boat Race Teams, and sailed for the MHS high school team, sailing in Women’s Nationals twice and winning State. At College of Charleston, I am a skipper and a crew for the dinghy team. I love spending time around water, whether it’s the beach, the island, or sailing scows, so I’m looking forward to another great summer!
So far I’ve coached 420’s and X boats here at LMSS and can’t wait to start coaching the Opti Race Team this summer.
Hi, I am Jacob Zils. This summer, I look forward to coaching passionate young sailboat racers in the X-Boat and 420/Laser classes. I‘m excited to coach at LMSS because I myself was enrolled in various LMSS racing programs all the way from ages 8-18! Throughout my own sailing career, I have competitively raced C420s, ILCAs/Lasers, E-scows, J-70s, Optis, A-scows, collegiate 420s, Melges 15s, Melges 14s, and any other class that I have had the opportunity to sail. I’ve been fortunate to race all around the world and have attended various international regattas and world championships representing myself, LMSS, and the United States! I’m currently a student and on the sailing team at Fordham University in New York City, and am pursuing a degree in Applied Accounting and Finance.
I grew up sailing on Lake Minnetonka. Started at a young age learning how to sail prams. Graduated to opti’s and started to compete at local TCYS events. Once I started to see success at that level I ventured into the regional events. Continued to improve and seek greater challenges for myself. I grew to racing on the national circuit and eventually making it into the international circuit. After sizing out of opti’s I started sailing C420’s. Saw success quite quickly in that fleet. I also sailed for Minnetonka Highschool and graduated in 2013. I was a team captain my senior year.
Some of my notable finishes are qualifying for Opti North Americans, South Americans, and Europeans. All done at the Optimist Team Trials event. 3rd at C420 Nationals. 6th at Orangebowl. A series of finishes at the CJ Buckley regatta (4th.3rd,3rd,1st) all gold fleet finishes. 2nd place at the Falmouth regatta. 6th place as tactician on the top American boat at the Youth International Match racing championships at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
I now sail E scows, A scows, DN’s and anything that goes fast. I have sailed prams, optis, ILCA6 (Laser Radial back in my day), MC scow, J70, Elliot 7m, Elliot 6m, Etchells, C420’s, Very limited time in an I420 and 29er.
My coaching experience started with volunteering and working with the HS team. I eventually decided to sign a contract and now coach the HS team, opti kids on Mondays and Fridays and will be coaching the 420 Race team this summer!
Summer 2024 Recreational Coaches
My name is Carmen Lineer and I am from Excelsior, Minnesota. I am currently student at UW-Madison studying neurobiology. I started sailing in summer camps at LMSS when I was in elementary school, and stuck with it. I started racing 420s and FJs in my freshman year of high school and am now the regatta coordinator of the Wisconsin Collegiate Sailing Team. I also enjoy keelboat racing! Sailing is a big part of my life and I always enjoy learning something new when I’m out on the water. I’m so excited to be at LMSS again this summer!
My name is Parker Laing and I’m so excited to be a head coach this year for Pram Class 7-9! I’ve been sailing for 10 years now, and started here at LMSS in Prams. I also have experience racing X Boats, 420s, and FJs through the LMSS Race programs. I’ve loved being a member and of the MHS High School Team for the last 5 years, and had the opportunity to be a team captain as a senior this year. When I’m not coaching in the summer, I love racing Melges 15s and E Scows through the Minnetonka Yacht club, and spending time on the water as much as I can. I’ve taught Prams for 3 years now, and am ready to use this experience towards having a great summer at Lighthouse Island!
My name is Martha Hughes, and I have grown up at LMSS. I started sailing when I was 5 in the prams, and moved on to sail Optis, X-Boats, Lasers, and 420’s at LMSS. Aside from learning to sail at LMSS I have spent lots of time sailing A scows, E scows, and participating in High School sailing for Blake School. I am a skipper of an A scow, and pull the jib on an E scow. On the E scow, my team and I won the 2023 E scow Invitational, won the E scow Interlakes and have multiple top 5 finishes at Nationals. I am the first ever A scow female skipper as well as the youngest, which has taught me and my youth team tons about sailing and working together. I also race Melges 15’s which I have had successful finishes in as well. Next year I am going to be sailing on Tulane University’s Sailing Team. I am super excited for this summer at LMSS, and meeting all of the new sailors!
Hi! I‘m Eduardo (or Ed), and I’m super excited to be back at LMSS for my third year as a sailing instructor. Sailing has been a part of me since I was a little boy—I just love to get out on the water and navigate freely, feeling the wind in my hair, and the waves beneath my boat has got to be one of my favorite feelings. You’ll often find me playing soccer, hockey (in the winter), or skiing. I love the feeling I get from teaching others the joy of sailing. I am so glad to have the opportunity to teach others how to sail just as I was been taught here at LMSS when I was a boy.
Hi! My name is Ana Stewart and I am looking forward to my fifth summer coaching at LMSS. I grew up sailing Optis, 420s, FJs, Lasers, and E Scows on Lake Minnetonka. I joined the MHS sailing team my freshman year of high school and was elected captain my senior year. I sail for the University of Miami where I am pursuing a degree in environmental science and economics! I love spending time on the lake and sharing my passion for sailing. Outside of sailing I enjoy traveling, spending time outside, and photography. I can’t wait to meet each and everyone of my campers this summer!
Hi! My name is Sofia Sigel and I am really excited to be back for my third summer as a Hartley Rec 10-11 assistant coach for LMSS.
I grew up sailing on Lake Minnetonka, sailing Optis, 420s, FJs, X-Boats, Lasers, M-15s, and E-Scows. These experiences have helped me gain sailing fundamentals and develop coaching skills for all kinds of conditions.
I have been on the Minnetonka High School Sailing Team for 6 years, starting in middle school and continuing through my senior year. Outside of sailing I like to travel, and spend time with friends on the lake. I look forward to coaching Rec classes and creating a fun summer learning experience for our sailors.
My name is Will Irwin and I am super excited for this summer at LMSS! I am going to be a senior at Edina High School this fall and I grew up sailing every summer with the LMSS recreational program, mostly in prams and Hartley 12s. This is going to be my third year as an assistant instructor with LMSS, and I have experience teaching with Prams, Hartleys, 420s, Optis, and keelboats. My favorite part of coaching is seeing how kids come to learn to love sailing, even when it can be a little scary and unfamiliar at first.
Outside of sailing I play soccer and the violin, and I also do track and field and really enjoy skiing in the winter.
Hi! My name is Lara Granucci and I am excited to be the head coach for the 420 Rec Camp this summer! I am a rising freshman at …. where I will study …. and be on the sailing team.
I began sailing when I was 6 years old in the LMSS Pram class, and have since moved through racing in Optis and Toppers at Shanghai Yacht Club, then racing on the Minnetonka High School Team in Lasers and 420s. Over the summer, my favorite boats to race are F18s. Apart from racing, I also love sailing with friends and spending time outside. I look forward to another amazing summer at LMSS!
Hi! My name is Jordi, I’m super excited to be coming back to LMSS for my third summer as the new STEAM program head coach. I’ve been sailing for the majority of my life, I spent 6 years on the Minnetonka high school sailing team where I sailed 420’s. I’ve also sailed E scows and Lasers. I’m a rising sophomore at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio studying biomedical engineering with a minor in Spanish and business management. At CWRU I am also the vice president of my universities sailing team. Outside of sailing and LMSS I am an avid skier, enjoy hanging out with friends, and traveling. I’m looking forward to another great summer!
Hi my name is Amelia Sulciner and I am super excited to be back at LMSS for my third summer! I am a rising freshman at Jacksonville University where I will be studying accounting, and be on the sailing team! I have been sailing for as long as I can remember and now sail 420s, FJs, M15s as well as sailing on the MHS high school team for the past three years. This year I will be assistant coach for the new STEAM program. Outside of sailing I love rock climbing and hanging out with friends!
Little Skippers Instructors
Hi! My name is Lucy Zinn and I am excited to be coaching this summer at LMSS. I grew up sailing on Lake Minnetonka starting at the age of 6 in Pram Camp. I later joined the Opti, X boat, and 420 race teams. For the past 5 years I have been apart of the Minnetonka High School Sailing Team where I have sailed 420s, FJs, and J70s. Also, I had the opportunity to be elected as a captain for my senior year on the team. In the summer I also spend time sailing scows and M15s for the Minnetonka Yacht Club. I plan on continuing my sailing career through college starting next school year.
Outside of sailing I like to ski, travel, and spend time with family and friends. I look forward to coaching this summer and creating a fun learning experience for our sailors!
Hi! My name is Gwen Nechas and I am really excited for this summer and to be Co-Head Coach for Little Skippers at LMSS.
I started sailing at the age of 11 on Lake Minnetonka in X-Boats which brought me to the High School Team sailing 420s, FJs, J70s and more, as well as for MYC, sailing Scows the past couple summers. I have been on the Minnetonka High School Sailing Team for 7 years, starting in middle school and continuing through my Senior Year.
Next fall I will be attending the College of Charleston studying Commercial Real Estate Finance with a Minor in Spanish, I will also be sailing. Outside of sailing I love being outside, traveling, spending time on the lake and hanging out with friends.
I am looking forward to coaching Little Skippers with coaches Lucy and Gwyn, and I cannot wait for another great summer!
Hi! My name is Gwyn Noller. I am super excited to be an assistant coach for Little Skippers at LMSS this summer. This will be my first year as an official coach at LMSS, but have coached as a sub in Hartleys and Optis over the past few summers. I started sailing on Lake Minnetonka at the age of eight and have been sailing every summer since. I really enjoy teaching kids and watching their confidence grow on the water. I’ll be a senior in the fall at Minnetonka High School Outside of sailing, I competitively rock climb, enjoy spending time with my friends and traveling. Looking forward to seeing you out on the water this summer!