David Rockefeller Jr. - Sailors for the Sea

David Rockefeller Jr.

David Rockefeller, Jr., director and former chairman of Rockefeller & Co., Inc., is an active participant in the nonprofit arena, especially in the areas of environment, the arts, public education and philanthropy.

David is the former vice chair of the National Park Foundation and former national vice chair of the Alaska Conservation Foundation. He served as a member of the Pew Oceans Commission, which issued a comprehensive report on the health of U.S. marine waters in June 2003. David’s commitment to ensuring that our government and communities embrace and implement the recommendations of the Pew Commission – and his passion for sailing and the sea – fueled the formation of Sailors for the Sea.

David has raced and cruised the ocean waters for over forty years, from Labrador to Miami, San Diego to Alaska, Scotland and Sweden to Turkey, and Italy. As many as 200 fellow sailors have joined the extensive sailing excursions he has personally organized in the U.S. and abroad. He co-owns and races, with his sailing partner Rick Burnes, the Danish IMX 45 Cybele on which he made his seventh Newport to Bermuda Race passage in June 2004. He also skippers an International One Design sloop out of Northeast Harbor, Maine, and regularly participates in IOD Worlds Competitions.

Why did you choose to get involved with an organization focused on ocean conservation?  
The Pew Ocean Commission woke me up to the five-alarm emergency in the marine environment, and I could not sit back and do nothing about it. 

What has changed more dramatically in your life time, the sport of sailing or ocean health?   
Ocean health has declined over all, and the sport of sailing has changed some for the better and some for the worse. I miss the Corinthian spirit of good amateur competition and I miss the lazy cruising on heavy displacement boats. However, the technology of carbon, Kevlar and other exotic fibers has made boat racing faster and more exciting. 

What was your “aha moment” that turned you into a conservationist?
Probably my first hiking experience in the Tetons where the majesty of the mountains and the fragility of the wildflowers first got my attention.