American Sailing Appoints Jonathan Payne, Executive Director

By: American Sailing

Jonathan Payne, the current Chief Marketing Officer and General Manager of American Sailing, is the newly appointed Executive Director of American Sailing. Payne was unanimously appointed at American Sailing’s January Board meeting.

Lenny Shabes, Founder of the American Sailing Association, is stepping down after founding the organization nearly 40 years ago.

“Jonathan Payne has been leading the charge of American Sailing as General Manager and Chief Marketing Officer for the past three years and is best suited to lead the organization into the future,” said Cindy Shabes, President of American Sailing, “His leadership skills and innovative style have already shown through in our ever-evolving strategy the past two years.” 

Jonathan Payne has worked directly with Lenny Shabes to cultivate the culture at American Sailing. In addition, he has overseen the growth in the sailing education space ranging from publishing, marketing, and brand awareness of the sailing education organization.  

Payne brings two decades of marketing and operational experience to American Sailing. Previously he co-founded Punchline Advertising and worked with national brands like Gold’s Gym and Volkswagen. Within ASA, Jonathan Payne’s experience as Chief Marketing Officer has meshed precisely with the growth of the company’s education tools, including books, online resources and the expansion of its course offerings. Moreover, his expertise has allowed American Sailing to emerge from the pandemic slowdown as a behemoth of the sailing education industry.

An avid outdoor enthusiast, Payne discovered sailing in 2011 and took classes at Anacortes Yacht Charters, an American Sailing school in Washington state and has become certified up through ASA 104. Since joining American Sailing in 2020, in addition to his duties as General Manager, he has worked as an editor, illustrator, and layout designer on the last two textbooks released by ASA.

“I am honored to take the reins of this organization from Lenny, as he has mentored me for the past three years to continue and protect the brand he has built. At the heart of what we do is the preservation and growth of sailing as a lifestyle. I take it upon myself to grow sailing in the same vein that Lenny Shabes took it upon himself to structure the sailing education model here in the US.”