It was the third time the guy had called from California and Gary Jobson finally had a minute to spare. "I'll talk to him," he declared, and jabbed a finger at the blinking phone.
"Okay, you want to buy (a $160,000 offshore racing yacht)? Let me tell you quickly what I know about that boat," he said. "There's no charge for this.
"She's a good heavy-air boat, she's good upwind but she won't do much in light air or off the wind. If you want to win in southern California, this isn't the boat.
"The guy who had her before kept her up, but you'd have to upgrade the sails. At the price, there are better boats, particularly for your area, where you need reaching and light-air capability.
"If you want more help, I'll be in California next week. Let me think about this a little and maybe I can come up with some ideas. Call me tomorrow."
Jobson hung up, leaned back in his plush swivel chair and grinned into the slanting afternoon sunlight. Another $1,000 bill was throwing itself at him and all he did was answer the phone.
"He's hot to buy," Jobson said of the caller, whom he'd never met. "When I talk to him tomorrow I'll tell him I can meet with him. I have six hours between planes on the way to New Zealand. It'll cost him $1,000 and it'll be worth it. I can save him a lot of problems. I'll suggest some boats, give him some ideas. I'll tell him I can work with him or I can work with a broker (for a finder's fee).
"He'll say, 'No, no. I want you on my team.' "
Jobson, 34, is on a roll. Everywhere he turns, folks want him on their team. He's on the payroll at Barient winches, Sebago boat shoes, Michelob beer, The Yacht magazine, High Seas foul-weather gear, Shore Sails and 17 other companies. He's finishing his sixth book on sailing.
Buddy Melges' Heartland of America 12-meter campaign is courting him to go to Australia to try to reclaim the America's Cup. Almost daily there are calls from wealthy yacht racers who want to tap Jobson's expertise and his boundless energy. For a price, of course.
A new, maroon Mercedes turbo diesel sits outside his home. There's a pretty view of Spa Creek from the new addition out back, and from the new deck you can see his new, $23,000 powerboat. "It's been a good year," he says.
Even Jobson is surprised. The America's Cup yacht on which he was tactician, Defender, flopped miserably in the 1983 series but his image, forged in 1977 when he was Ted Turner's top adviser aboard Cup winner Courageous, flourishes anyway, judging by the $350,000 in trade Jobson Sailing Inc. did out of Annapolis last year.
Now comes Dewar's Scotch with a full-page profile appearing in national magazines, showing Jobson in a bathtub noodling with a toy boat. It's amusing because if there's one thing Jobson doesn't have the time or inclination for, it's frivolity. The ad says his ambition is to spend one uninterrupted week at home. "The photo alone took eight hours," he groans.
Last Sunday Jobson flew to New Zealand to sail in the Royal New Zealand Cup. Later in April, he boards Jubilation, a 54-footer, for Antigua race week. Early in May, he flies to England for the Royal Lymington Cup match races, then in June there's a week of racing at Newport, R.I., on 80-foot Matador, ollowed by Rhode Island's Block Island Race week on Jubilation. In the off hours there are all those accounts to service.
"He's a dynamo," said Bill Martin, offshore director of the U.S. Yacht Racing Union and skipper of Stars and Stripes, on which Jobson was tactician during the last Canada Cup series.
"Gary is charged up. He's up at 7 in the morning and on the phone. He's got his tape recorder, he's dictating memos and sending them back to Annapolis by Federal Express to have them typed."
What Jobson does for a living is sail, which sounds odd because sailing is theoretically and officially still an amateur sport.
But there are so many loopholes in USYRU regulations he doesn't even need to bend the rules. "All the rule says is you can't take money for racing on a boat," said Martin. "You can pay a guy $50,000 to clean out your garage, as long as when he sails with you in a race, it's for free."
Jobson's talents square nicely with this anachronistic rule.
He has three types of accounts, each requiring him to race boats but none requiring he take money for racing, which he says he never does although he gets some very nice offers, including one recently for $25,000 to do a three-day race.
He gives talks on yacht racing to groups ($500 a shot); he offers $1,000, one-day sessions for big-boat racers, during which he might work with the owner on boat and crew problems or simply sail a practice exercise, make suggestions and write a report; and he works with corporations as their man on the international yacht-racing scene.
"Say I'm in the Chicago-Mackinac race," he said. "I'm talking to people the whole time. 'What are the hot stores? What are people buying?' Then I write a report and let my companies know where they should be marketing."
One thing Jobson readily admits he isn't is the greatest sailor in creation. That would take a commitment he isn't willing to make.
Olympic-class sailors don't succeed, he said, unless they sail their Solings or Finns every day at the expense of the rest of their lives. Jobson sails all kinds of boats, from tiny Snipes to mighty 12-meters, all over the world, cruising the elegant yachting circuit with an eye for profits aching to be made.
Sam Merrick, former chairman of the U.S. Olympic Yachting Committee, taught a then clumsy, self-conscious Jobson how to sail 20 years ago aboard E Scows in Barnegat Bay, N.J. "One couldn't have imagined at the time how far he'd go," said Merrick. "He's ambitious and astonishingly good at self-promotion in a way few of us in sailing are."
And though not No. 1, he's no slouch at the helm.
A couple of weeks ago Jobson borrowed a 22-foot racing sloop to photograph for his newest book. The photo session washed out when a wild snowstorm blew into Annapolis with 30-knot winds. Lacking anything else to do, Jobson suggested a little sail.
With Stu Johnstone, like Jobson a former college sailor of the year, tending the mainsail and a frantically overmatched newsman wrestling the jib, the little boat hammered up the Severn River into the wind with all canvas flying.
When Jobson turned at the old Severn River Bridge and put the wind behind, it was to enjoy a downwind schuss of blood-boiling proportions. "Set the spinnaker!" Jobson called, and the big 'chute popped and the little boat took off like a Labrador after a downed goose.
Given the conditions, even the hard-charging head of Jobson Sailing Inc. couldn't restrain an uncalculated whoop of delight.