When the Lewes Yacht Club decided to purchase a new committee boat for races and other special functions, it didn't take long to come up with a name.
The sailing committee chose the name J.J. Mason to honor the true matriarch of the club. She brought her love of being out on the water to children. With help from Peggy Maull doing the books and paperwork, she resurrected and was in charge of the Junior Sailing Program from 1983 until her death in 2000.
Many family and club members attended a christening ceremony July 6 along the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. Under the direction of LYC Commodore Nick Carter, the family poured champagne on the bow before taking a ride with LYC officers. Four of her five children attended the event: Jenny Hopkins, Jenkie Lingo, Andrew Mason and Mase Mason. Son Skutch Mason was unable to attend.
An accomplished sailor, if she wasn't racing, J.J. was teaching others how to sail. She could fix anything and even stitch up sails with her sewing machine – she also offered sewing classes for girls.
As a true renaissance woman, she was a world traveler, licensed pilot at 16, national champion skeet and trap shooter and won numerous Sunfish titles at the local, national and international level. She raced into her 70s.
In 1997, she received the Best Sportsmanship Award during the Sunfish World Championships in Columbia.
Many people can recall seeing J.J. sitting in her reserved spot at the old LYC clubhouse - the southeast corner where she could get the perfect breeze to cool off after a long day on the water.
“Nothing went on at the beach that she didn't know about or wasn't in the middle of,” said Hopkins. “She would keep an eye on things from the third floor with her telescope.”
J.J. always had the best interests of club kids at heart. She provided the club with a TV, ping-pong tables and even computers to keep children busy.
She helped get the pool ready and did whatever else was needed at LYC as a devoted volunteer. She became a certified water aerobics instructor and introduced the program to LYC members.
Cape Gazette sports editor Dave Frederick said it best in a March 31, 2000 column: “Janice ran the race of life mostly underneath a sail, and mostly being followed by children. The three generations of youth sailors who were schooled under Skipper JJ enjoyed the best teacher in the world.”