It is the beginning of a new year and there is plenty going on. In the spring in Spain the Louis Vuitton Cup will be a great spectacle as it always is, and the America’s Cup will be raced for the 32nd time. In the ramp up toward the Olympic Games in China the ISAF Combined World Championships will take place in Cascais, and here in the USA we will hold our Olympic trials six months earlier than in the past in an effort to upgrade our performance in Qingdao. There will be a new roundthe-world event, the Barcelona World Race, and teams for the 2008 Volvo Ocean Race are already getting out on the water, with the Mean Machine crew taking the lead by getting out sailing for a few weeks before Christmas in the old Black Pearl.
I was flattered to be invited to join the Spanish America’s Cup team, Desafío Español 2007 – an invitation I accepted. I have agreed to work with them in February and March, in trialling their two new boats and in their preparations for the Louis Vuitton Cup. I am joining in an advisory role and will sail on the B-boat. I am looking forward to sailing with the Spanish, as they are a very good team that is fighting a tough battle with several other teams to be Louis Vuitton semi-finalists in May.
I am also interested to see the technological progress that has been made in the America’s Cup Class in the past four years. I am sure that sails and rigs have reached a very high level of refinement with all the money that has been poured into this event… I think this Louis Vuitton Cup will be one of the most competitive and closely fought contests in the history of the Cup.
The class has now been around for 15 years, 100 boats have been built and there are more professionals spending more time with more resources than ever. Should be good spectating…
Later in the year I am still planning on racing in the Transpac with my kids; but I have to admit that I have not solved all the issues of getting organised for that. In fact, I am still without a boat!
I have looked at a few options but not decided on anything as yet. Plan B will be to do the Pacific Cup in 2008. This starts in my town and finishes in Hawaii, so it has the added benefit of sailing out under the Golden Gate Bridge. The adventure is the same and the extra year of prep time may be a necessity.
In early August, my son, Danny, will compete in the 29er Swedish Championship in my in-laws’ home town of Kullavik, Sweden, as well as in the European Championship in Gottskar, slightly further south. I am not sure whether it will be Danny or my father in-law Pelle [Petersen] who will enjoy those events more. Danny is also a newcomer to the 49er class and has promised to take his dad out for a burn on the bay. I just bought my own trapeze harness and am standing by for the call!
I am also planning on jumping into the Star Olympic trials toward the end of the year. It will be a last-minute thing as opposed to the 18-month effort I put in for Athens. But I have been around Olympic Trials since 1980. I have been involved in sailing for over 40 years. I have seen plenty of people who deserved to win a regatta not win it and those who had little invested win. That is the nature of our sport and you have to know your venues. Some are more conducive to such a ‘hip shot’. Our Star trials will be held in late October in Marina Del Rey. Now there is a spotty, fluky, choppy venue at the best of times. Perfect for an older, seasoned, experienced and out-of-shape, untrained but hopefully lucky competitor. Nothing invested is the best way to sail loose.
I have been around my home in California most of the time since the Volvo ended in June. I have really enjoyed my family and being a supporter of their interests rather than being so consumed and focused on my own project that I missed everything that is going on with them. I am learning, slowly, that there is more to life than sailing, that life is relatively short, and that if you don’t make the time to participate or enjoy certain special things, you will miss them and they will be gone forever. This isn’t to say that you must put aside your competitive desires or career. It is to say that, if possible, you should become more selective as you grow older. I think that this will make the things I choose to do in both my sailing and my personal life more enjoyable and probably even more successful.
Finally my new book, The Black Pearl – A Pirate Ship, has now been published. Great winter reading in front of the fireplace plus all the profits will go to support youth sailing in the San Francisco Bay area!