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June 17, 2014

What does a defense contracting company and a local offshore racing yacht team have in common? – A passionate, talented individual named Scott “Gus” Ward.

Ward, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. and AVIAN LLC employee, has been racing sailboats for 39 years at a world, national championship/professional level competing in dinghy, catamaran and offshore racing events.

This year, AVIAN sponsored Ward’s award-winning racing team by assisting with the purchase of a new main sail, as well as stickers for the hull, aft and boom that all sport an AVIAN logo and the phrase “Powered by AVIAN.”

“We believe in our employees,” said Kevin Switick, an owner of AVIAN. “Supporting Gus’ passion was a no-brainer. Gus and his team represent the AVIAN spirit. They already had the talent and discipline to win; they just needed some AVIAN power behind their sails to make their racing year an even greater success.”

Ward, AVIAN’s operations and acquisition deputy for the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Systems Program Office (PMA-263), U.S. Naval Academy varsity offshore sailing team coach and former Marine Corps AV-8B pilot, grew up along the coast of Southern California.

He spent most of his time in, on or around the water swimming, sailing or as a lifeguard.

Ward said he was fortunate to have surf pioneers like Phil Edwards, Hobie Alter and Mickey Munoz teach him waterman and surf culture, which lead to sailing Hobie catamarans at a young age that ultimately fueled his passion for offshore sailing.

Ward’s current boat, the “Crocodile” Beneteau First 40.7, crewed by a team of eight, is an offshore equipped monohull sailing yacht.

At the end of May, the team competed against 40 other boats in the Down the Bay race, the longest Chesapeake Bay race spanning the distance between Annapolis, Maryland and Hampton, Virginia. This was the Crocodile’s first attempt at the Down the Bay race, which resulted in a team win and was the team’s second race of the season.


On the heels of the Bay race, the team has turned their focus to the Newport Bermuda race, beginning June 20 that will span 635 miles from Newport, Rhode Island to St. David’s Head, Bermuda and will take three to five days to complete depending on water and weather conditions. The team has been preparing for almost a year by performing system checks on the boat, training, reviewing climatology and ocean currents and running models to analyze optimal courses.

“Offshore racing re-charges me,” Ward said. “I really enjoy the big ocean races as they require a lot of planning, preparation, knowledge of conditions and a high team skillset along with being able to optimize the boat to various conditions from no wind to hurricane conditions.”

Next month, the Crocodile will be racing locally in the Screwpile Regatta on July 19 in Solomons, Maryland followed by the Governor’s Cup race from Annapolis to St. Mary’s City, Maryland on Aug 1-2.

“It is exhilarating to see our logo on the main sail of the Crocodile,” Switick said. “We wish the team all the best luck in their upcoming races and look forward to celebrating their victories.”

Other Crocodile teammates include navigator Shane Morast, tactician Clarke Mckinney, watch captain James Denham, watch captain Jim Young, Art Kuenne, Kristin Pederson, and Robert “Smitty” Smith.

For additional information:
Tara N. Strickland
Director of Communications