updated 07/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Lynne Jewell, 20, is America's top woman single-handed sailor. She achieved that title by winning five out of eight regattas last year and being the highest-ranking Yank (and No. 4 overall) at the 1979 women's world championships. En route to that finish, the plucky skipper saw her 13'11" Laser flip over seven times during the seven-day event. Born in North Hollywood, Lynne is the daughter of an industrial filmmaker and his ex-wife, Lydia, herself twice the Southern California single-handed champ. Lynne started sailing at 6 with her twin brother, Bill (now a professional motorcycle driver), and won her first race in 1975 in a Sunfish off Hyannis, Mass. She was all-scholastic in four sports in high school and was a Junior Olympic hurdler until she "got tired of running." Though nicknamed "Wild Woman" on the sailing circuit for her pranks ("I love to start food fights"), Lynne is a sober enough student to have made dean's list at Boston University this year. She will graduate in special education in 1981 and expects to go into teaching the handicapped. In the meantime she is training against men to get ready for the women's world title competition in Denmark next month. "The guys push the limits," she explains. "Even when I lose I learn something." Yet Lynne adds that "there was a time when winning really got to my head. But my mom said, 'Look, kid, why did you take up sailing? To have a good time, right?' I am."