Geoffrey Hart Spranger, 85

Middletown, R.I.

Geoffrey Hart Spranger passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 2, 2018 at Newport Hospital following a brief illness. The only son of the late Joseph William Spranger and the late Ruth Marie (née Berger) Spranger, Jeff was born in East Providence, R.I. on Nov. 25, 1932.

Jeff’s lifelong love for sailing took seed at a young age when he was a member at Edgewood Yacht Club. Jeff and his father built a Snipe in 1950, and named it Hot Stuff. The Snipe was his pride and joy, and in 1954 he sailed her to the Narragansett Bay and Edgewood Yacht Club championships, before losing the boat to Hurricane Carol.

Following his graduation from Brown University in 1955, he was hired as an English/Sacred Studies teacher, sailing coach and dorm master at St. George’s School in Middletown, R.I., where he remained on the faculty until 1971. He was the head sailing coach for his entire tenure at the school, and his dedication to the sport was recognized with his induction into the St. George’s School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. He also became involved in the Interscholastic Sailing Association, a commitment that spanned more than 50 years.

In 1958, he purchased Herreshoff Class S-Boat #52, which he re-christened Berserk. Jeff successfully raced Berserk for the next 10 years, winning the class championship in 1968.

In 1971, Jeff left teaching at St. George’s School to become an associate editor at the fledgling “Sail” magazine, where he stayed until 1979 when the editorial offices moved. He then accepted the job of editor for a small, chatty newsletter called “The Practical Sailor,” steering that publication until 1987. In his final working years, Jeff was the sales room manager at Jamestown Distributors, retiring in 1998.

The highlight of Jeff’s racing career was being a member of a Newport to Bermuda Race crew in 1964 on Burgoo, a 37-ft Pearson Invicta, which was the lowest rated boat in the fleet, but finished first in fleet on corrected time. Another high point in his life was his reporting on racing for the America’s Cup, first as a reporter for the “Newport Daily News” in 1964, 1967 and 1970, and later as co-publisher with Barbara Lloyd of the “America’s Cup Report” in 1980 and 1983. This work made Jeff perhaps the most informed reporter of this premier racing event for 20 years.

Jeff’s affinity for the water, sailing and racing was second only to his love of the written word. This included reporting on America’s Cup racing, covering a wide variety of topics while at “Sail” magazine, and his advocacy for his vision of product testing, industry watchdogging, and boatowner advocacy while at “The Practical Sailor.” His love for the sport of sailing, for fair and well-run racing, and for nearly every boat afloat, was passionate and undeniable.

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