Tomas Petkus, former J/105 Fleet Captain and long-time skipper of Vytis (#104), has been elected to the Lake Michigan Sailing Hall Of Fame, it was announced Friday.
The formal induction ceremony will take place later in the 2021 sailing season. The award honors individuals who are dedicated to the betterment of sail racing and leaders in the sport. Petkus' Corinthian spirit as Fleet Captain was evident by his willingness to provide access to his and his crew's technical expertise including rig settings, sail handling and other racing tips for new members of the Fleet. A tradition that continues to be emulated among the J/105s decades later.
Petkus, along with his brother "Gyt" successfully skippered Vytis to snag the CYCRTM Mackinac Cup as the overall winners in the 2007 Chicago - Mackinac Race. Petkus and the tightly knit crew (many family relatives) has consistently won honors throughout a storied racing career on Lake Michigan. They have twice won the Chicago NOODs overall (2009 and 2019). Here's what Tomas had to say after the first win as reported in US Sailing:
"This is huge for us. This is a regatta we've always aspired to win, and we come to the NOOD every year."
By every year, he meant every year for the past 18. The 2009 NOODs was his 15th in the J/105 class. The Vytis guys sail their boat like a professional crew, but they'd never let you mistake them as such.
"We're a family boat," says Petkus. "For us, it's more important to have fun with family and friends than to win."
In addition to his racing prowess, Petkus served in a number of administrative capacities. He was the Appeals Committee Chair of LMSRF Appeals Committee and was part of the Legal Committee for US Sailing. He was Fleet Captain of the J/105 Fleet Five and served as its Treasurer for more than a decade (2002-2013). An unfortunate spinal condition forced him to permanently retire from sailing about six years ago, but his love for the sport remains. Petkus graduated from the University of Illinois and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1980 and . He still practices law at the firm of Tobin & Munoz. His parents emigrated to the US from Lithuania (after Stalin invaded the country in 1953) when Tomas was just one year old.
Tomas Petkus stands in the middle of his Vytis crew moments after winning the overall 2009 NOOD regatta in Chicago, IL: