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Friday, April 4, 2014

Sailor Claims America's Cup Terminated Him for Being Gay, Sues

Posted By on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 3:41 PM

click to enlarge Larry Jacobson claims his boss exclaimed "That's our poof!" in reference to him...
  • Larry Jacobson claims his boss exclaimed "That's our poof!" in reference to him...

Oracle Team USA's comeback in the America's Cup -- remember all that? -- was, at the time, described as "stirring," "inspirational," and, essentially, the greatest thing since sliced yachts.

Not much before or since has been much fun; in fact it's been stirringly and inspirationally bad. 

And now this: A gay local sailor last month filed suit against the overarching America's Cup Race Management and America's Cup Event Authority, claiming he was dismissed from his position as a "VIP Spectator Boat Captain" following displays of homophobia from his superiors seemingly ripped from a low-grade 1970s sitcom. 

Larry Jacobson is described in the suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, as "an openly gay experienced amateur sailor and boat captain"; his website refers to him as an "award-winning author" and "motivational speaker."

He would, sadly, be in need of motivation following his decision to give his bosses and their wives a copy of his book, The Boy Behind the Gate, described within the suit as retelling Jacobson's "experiences sailing around the world in a sail boat over a six year period with his same-sex romantic partner." 

At this point, Jacobson claims, his tenure with the America's Cup struck a reef. 

Shortly after he purportedly gifted Andy Hindley, America's Cup Race Management's COO, Jacobson requested duty performing "physical break down work" after the conclusion of the Cup.

This request was denied. In the suit, Jacobson claims Hindley "made a 'limp wrist' gesture with his hand" and said "people like you don't want work like that." 

At a subsequent soiree, the plaintiff alleges Harold Bennett, the regatta's director of on-water operations, demanded Jacobson fetch him a beer. Jacobson declined to do so; as he walked away he claims Bennett turned to a group of others and, referring to Jacobson, exclaimed "that's our poof." 

The suit, for the benefit of those who didn't grow up watching Monty Python, explains the implications of the "limp wrist gesture" and the term "poof." 

One week after the poof incident, in mid-September, Jacobson claims he was handed a termination letter by Bennett that was signed by Hindley. Oracle Team USA's stirring and inspirational comeback left Jacobson "unable to avoid having his friends and loved ones learn that he had not been on the water during the final races because he had been terminated, to his humiliation and disappointment." 

Messages for Jacobson have not been returned, nor have messages for Cup management.

Jacobson's lawyer, Zachary Shepard, declined to discuss the case, even declining to answer whether he'd ever before litigated against a yachting race. This is, presumably, his first regatta. 

For San Francisco - and for Jacobson - it may be the last.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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