Carol O'Rourke Joe Bersch, a recent graduate from UW Law School, took an extra semester to complete his legal studies and thereby found time also to fulfill an Olympic dream. In September of 1988,Joe represented the United States on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul, Korea. A native of Milwaukee, Joe began sailing at age six at the Milwaukee Yacht Club on Lake Michigan. He began competing on a local level by age ten and nationally by age fifteen. In 1979Joe represented "Midwest Area E" at the National Junior Championships in Marion, Massachusetts, finishing fifth. He also competed in the United States Youth Championships in 1980 in Port Townsend, Washington, finishing sixth. It was at this time that Joe became involved in the Olympic 470 Class, winning all major regional events from 1980 to 1984. (For landlubbers, the accompanying photos show the 470 Class sailboat.] From 1980 to 1983, Joe attended the University of Miami majoring in Marine Science and geology, with minors in chemistry and biology. While attending the University of Miami, Joe actively campaigned for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. His ambitions were cut short, however, due to an unexpected spinal operation. After recovery, Joe sailed full-time on a forty-one foot racing sailboat in the Virgin Islands Atlantic Seaboard. He then enrolled in UW Law School, with an intent in pursuing a career in Admiralty and Maritime Law. While at the Law School, Joe took directed reading with Professors Bilder and Baldwin, expanding his knowledge of and interest in the law and the sea. Joe greatly values his experience at the University of Wisconsin. "UW-Madison is a great law school because its atmosphere and faculty allowed me to pursue my non-academic interests while obtaining a nationally recognized education in law." Joe again became involved in Olympic sailing in 1986, also in the 470 Class, with partner Luther Carpenter from New Orleans. They qualified for the 1987 U.S. Men's Sailing Team after a third place
Joe Bersch on right finish in the U.S. Olympic pre-trials in Newport, Rhode Island. During the summer of 1987, while working as a law clerk for Stinson, Lyons, Gerlin and Bustamante, in Miami, Joe took time off to travel to Kiel, West Germany, for the Kiel Race Week, the largest one-design sailing event in the world, and the 470 World Championships. During the fall semester of 1987, Joe took time off from his legal studies to compete in the U.S. 470 Nationals in Dallas, Texas, finishing fourth of forty-two competitors. In the spring Joe went to Haifa, Israel, for the 470 World Championships. "Dean Thompson encouraged me to take time off to pursue an Olympic dream-so I did!" Joe was then off to the south of France to compete in the International Spring Cup in Sete, France, followed by the Hyeres Olympic Week in Hyeres, France. After spending the spring in Europe, Joe returned home that May to watch his law
school peers graduate. In July of 1988, Joe competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Newport, Rhode Island. He and his partner, Luther Carpenter, finished fifth and were chosen by the U.S. Olympic Committee to be members of the U.S. Olympic Second Team. He spent the summer training in California and in August left for Pusan, South Korea. "I found the Korean people to be the friendliest people I have ever met, but the country is severely polluted, and the food is scary! Raw sewage flows in streams into the ocean where we sailed." Joe arrived home in September 1988 to resume law school. He graduated in December and moved to Seattle, Washington, a location with superb sailing and law firms active in Admiralty Law. Joe is currently working for LeGros, Buchanan, Paul and Whitehead. "My future plans include making enough money so I can sponsor other sailors' Olympic dreams and promote Olympic sailing throughout the U.S."
Winter/Fall 1989/90 Gargoyle Alumni Magazine