Chris Zaleski
Role: Founding Partner
Born: 1960, Olsztyn, Poland
Education: National Maritime Academy

Chris Zaleski and his twin brother Waldek were born in 1960 in Olsztyn, Poland.

They started sailing dinghies (Cadets and 420) at the age of 15 on Poland's famed Masurian Lakes. During winters they actively racing DN ice boats. In 1980 they moved to seaside Gdynia, a suburb of Gdansk to study at the National Maritime Academy. During these years the twins got involved in keel boats sailing IOR Quarter Tonners on the Baltic Sea. In 1985 and 1987 the twins become Polish Champions in the class. They graduated the Maritime Academy in 1985 with a Master degree in Sea Navigation. Their degree put them in a position to receive positions as officers on merchant vessels. However it was presented to them that to get these positions they must join the Communist Party. Their refusal to do so on ethical grounds put an end to their prospects for a merchant marine career

This turn of events pushed them to get involved in building boats and sails. As a matter of fact the boat and sails they used to win the Polish Championship, they built themselves. The sails were made of Kevlar in their newly open loft - the first high tech sails made in Poland!

In 1988 Chris emigrated to the United States. To pursue their passion for racing they picked the J/24 as it’s similar to their quarter tonners and a very competitive class - following the mantra “if you want to be the best you have to compete against the best”. At the same time the twins joined Chris Wentz at Sailspar Sailmakers. After a few years the company changed its name to Z Sails (Z being the last letter of Wentz’s name and first letter of Zaleski’s).

During last 10 years the twins have accomplished a lot on the racing scene. In J/24 they climbed through the ranks and remain at top of the class. They also won other one-design titles in the J/27, J/35, and J/120 classes and numerous PHRF events It is impossible to list them all, so here are some of the most important results:

J/24 Class

1992 4th in US Nationals

1994 1st in North/East Regionals

1996 3rd in North Americans Championships

1999 3rd in US Nationals

1st Long Island Sound Championship

2000 2nd in Newport Regatta ( pre Worlds)

2nd in North Americans Championships

5th in the World Championships in Newport (73 boats from 15 countries!)

  • 2001 3rd in the Midwinters

2nd in the Canadians Nationals

In 2000 the J/24 Class honored the twins by awarding them the annual Peter Milnes Memorial Sportsmanship Trophy.

Other One Design Classes

J/27 1999

1st North American Championship

J/35 1995

1st American Spring Series

1st Greenwich Cup

1st Long Island Sound Championship

2nd Northeast Championship

1st Larchmont Race Week

1st Manhasset Fall Series

J/120 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001

1st American Yacht Club Spring series

‘97, ‘98’ 99’ 2000

Long Island Sound Championship


1996 1st Block Island Race Week - Div.7

1999 1st Key West Race Week - J/29 class

Key West Trophy for best boat of the week