MP3 audio (31 minutes): Paul Cayard calls into Sailing Talk from San Francisco, where he’ll soon be racing a 505 in the World Championships with Howie Hamlin. Not surprisingly, Paul’s also got something to say about the ‘stored power’ should-they-allow-engines-in-the-America’s-Cup debate. Justin Chisholm reports from the Mirror Worlds which are concluding in North Wales….

Listen to the podcast at

Like many top professional sailors, Paul Cayard is a perfectionist. Having won the Whitbread Race at this first attempt in 1997, he was a useful guy to get on board Grant Dalton’s 2001 campaign for the Volvo Ocean Race aboard Amer Sports One.

There must have been times, though, when some of his team mates were wondering if his passion for boatspeed bordered on the excessive. “I was telling the guys on Amer, in any stability situation, when you move a PC yarn,” he says while picking up a mouse cable as an example, “from the middle of the boat to the windward side, it is faster, so why not do it? Every single tiny thing – if you stack it from here to here – it’s faster. It just is – you don’t have to study it, hope for it, pray for it, it just is.” As Scotty on the USS Enterprise might have observed: “You cannae change the laws of physics!”

Even Dalton, who thinks of himself as a man with his eye on the detail, admitted to being gobsmacked by Cayard’s obsessiveness. Cayard makes no apologies for that. He cites an example from the last leg: “I see a guy take off his heavy weather jacket and fling it on the leeward bunk, and I say: ‘Why don’t you take it and hang it up on the windward side? What are you thinking about – it’s just brain fade?’

“There’s just no doubt that that thing has to be stacked on the windward side. That’s what I call one of those guaranteed gainers. You have got to make sure bank all those, because there are all those other times when you’re dealing with a weather forecast or maybe human error, which you barely have total control over, that you’ve got to be ahead with all these other things that are total givens.”

For Cayard, such situations are simple. There is a right way and a wrong way, and so there is no difficult decision to be made. You just do it. It gets tougher when you face a dilemma, a hard choice, especially in a complex big boat campaign when there are many difficult choices to be made all at once.

Again though, Cayard has a good way of sifting the really important decisions from the less vital ones. “If a team has been chasing after something for a year and a half and still nothing has come from it then it must be forgotten. Whether it is a decision about the boat, the crew or whatever, there is often a tendency to keep discussing and worrying about something, wasting energy when you just have to make a decision.”

“One of my philosophies is that if two things are so similar that it makes it hard to decide then you should just pick one, because it doesn’t matter. It is important not to waste any more time on it because there is probably something else that will make much more difference, where you really need the time. If you get it wrong in that case you can lose a lot, but if two things are going to have a similar outcome, it’s not worth wasting any more time on it, since in the end it will be the same anyway.”

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The longest day of the year, Father’s Day, and a win at the Star District Championship. That was June 21 for me. Now I am driving up Highway 5 to San Francisco with my son Danny.

Last Thursday, Danny, Allie and I departed San Francisco onboard the TP 52 Flash (formerly Atalanti) and raced to Catalina Island off Long Beach. It was a windy first 20 hours running under fractional gennaker down the California coast. With the wind peaking at 30 knots and boatspeed in excess of 26 knots, it was 20 hours to Point Conception which is 260 nautical miles from SF. Apart from going fast in the pitch black dark, we had more excitement than we needed with the rudder tried to slip out of the top bearing. The rudder dropped down about 3 of the 3.5 inches that it is captive in the bearing. Had the rudder slipped completely out, I don’t think the boat would have been afloat for long. We managed to get it back up to its proper location, and go on to push the boat as normal. We learned a lot about the boat on the trip down and have a fairly long worklist for this week. The Trans-Pac starts in two weeks on July 5th for us on Flash.

So after finishing at Catalina at midnight Saturday morning (all day Friday doing the 100 miles from Conception to Catalina), we motored to Long Beach where we got into a hotel room at 0430. Up at 0830 and down to Newport Beach for the first 4 races of the Star District Championship. Luckily my crew Austin Sperry got there on Friday and rigged the boat so it was an “arrive and go” for me. Yesterday, the wind was light and it was raining. The Catalina Eddy was in effect and the conditions were squirely. Today, (after an awesome night’s sleep!) we woke up to bright So Cal sunshine and a nice westerly wind. We had three nice races where Austin and I managed to cross the finish line first in each. This gave us the win over Eric Doyle in the second, and Eric Lucidius and Mike Marzahl in third.

So there has been a lot of life taking place in the past four days with not a lot of sleep. That’s ok because you can sleep later.

San Diego, CA

I was honored to be the guest speaker at Friday night’s first annual Challenged America Gala dinner sponsored by West Marine. Honored because the mountains I have climbed in sailing are molehillls in comparison to what these disabled sailors do!

President and co-founder of Challenged America Urban Miyares is a Vietnam Vet who lost his eyesight to agent orange. He was bowman when Challenged America fielded an entry in both the 2003 and 2005 Transpacs!! The foundation actively operates ten specially equiped Martin 16’s out of Shelter Island in San Diego. Last year they had 1,000 disabled people out sailing. Disabled people who go sailing often say that it is the most therapeutic activity they do. Challenged America also supports research to develop the mechnism that allows the boats to be sailed by disabled sailors. They have a member who can only use his toungue and lips, and he has sailed solo!!

The stories are fascinating and a true testimony to the human spirit, as well as the will to overcome. I was in awe of these people and just honored to be in their company.

Kudos to West Marine for supporting this very worthy cause and all those individuals who have done so much to build Challenged America over the past 31 years.

There is much more that they do. Check out Challenged America at

Paul Cayard will be the keynote speaker at the first West Marine/ Challenged America Regatta, June 12-13, 2009 in San Diego to support sailors with disabilities in the San Diego-based Challenged America program. Cayard will be speaking on Friday, June 12 at the event’s dinner and auction, following the fun race of San Diego commodores competing in Martin 16s. To hear Paul speak, make reservations for the dinner or to enter the regatta, visit or contact Challenged America at (619) 523-9318 or

San Diego, CA (May 8, 2009) — Paul Cayard has joined West Marine and Cortez Racing Association for a benefit to support Challenged America sailors with disabilities in the first West Marine/Challenged America Regatta, June 12 & 13, 2009, in San Diego.

“From being a seven-time World Champion and two-time Olympian, and five-time America’s Cup veteran, to be the first American to win the Whitbread Around The World Race, Paul Cayard’s name and presence is quickly identified and talked about in virtually every yacht club and sailing venue in the world,” said Urban Miyares, blinded Vietnam veteran, sailor, and Challenged America co-founder. “Having Paul take time out of his busy schedule to come to San Diego to help us and do the keynote at our Friday, June 12 dinner and auction is truly a special treat. And once the word gets out, I’m hoping we have enough room at the Bali Hai Restaurant on Shelter Island to accommodate everyone who is looking to meet Paul and hear him speak.”

The inaugural West Marine/Challenged America Regatta is a fundraising event supported by West Marine and San Diego’s Cortez Racing Association (CRA) to help support the charittable Challenged America adaptive sailing program for disabled veterans, kids and adults with disabilities.

Beginning on Friday (June 12) at 4 pm, local yacht club commodores will race in the Challenged America program’s Martin 16, two-person sailboats from the Bali Hai Restaurant’s dock for bragging rights of winning the (perpetual). “Commodores Challenge” trophy — that will be proudly displayed at the West Marine store’s entrance for all to see.

Following the “Commodores Challenge” race, dinner begins at 6 pm in the newly enclosed outdoor pavillion of the Bali Hai Restaurant, with Paul Cayard’s motivational address. The silent auction (with some surprises) follows, and the evening’s festivities ends with an after-dinner social on the waterfront edge, overlooking the scenic lights of downtown San Diego.

On the next day, Saturday, June 13, the West Marine/Challenged America Regatta officially begins with an 11 am first race start of more than 50 sailboats racing on San Diego’s Big Bay. The post-race awards and festive party (with food, drink, prizes, etc.) follows (4 pm) at the Point Loma West Marine store’s parking area, on Rosecrans.

“We are expecting a capacity crowd for the dinner and auction on Friday, and more than 400 racers and volunteers on Saturday, plus countless others on the water in spectator boats and on the shoreline watching the racing. Two races are planned for the day, with many sailors with disabilities also racing,” said Miyares. “Everyone in San Diego will want to be part of this exciting and fun San Diego event on the waterfront, and meet those sailors and celebrities in attendance. We are still seeking sponsors, auction items, and donations … and registration for the Regatta and ticket sales for the Friday event are now being taken.”

The West Marine/Challenged America Regatta is a yearly event to benefit the charitable Challenged America program for kids and adults with disabilities. A therapeutic adaptive sailing program conceived in 1978 by disabled San Diego veterans, hundreds participate in this free, volunteer-driven sailing program each year.

Funds from the West Marine/Challenged America Regatta will go directly towards maintaining the program’s fleet of 12 vessels, providing free learn-to-sail and advanced sailing opportunities for those hospitalized, in therapeutic recovery or rehabilitation programs, and for kids and adults living with disabilities, along with loved ones in the community. Challenged America is a 501(c)(3) charitable program, and all contributions, vessel donations, gifts, and business support and sponsorship are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed.

For additional information to become a sponsor, donor or supporter, or to register your vessel for the regatta or purchased tickets for the West Marine/Challenged America Regatta dinner or other events, visit, or contact Kelli Garner at Challenged America, (619) 523-9318, email

This past weekend I celebrated 30 years since I last sailed a 505 by racing on one. That’s right, not 30 years of 505 sailing but 30 years since I last stepped foot in one. I crewed for Howard Hamlin of Long Beach up here in SF in the Elvestrom(do we pay him a royalty?)/Zellerbach(I think he died before royalties became in vogue) Regatta. Small turn out in the 505 fleet (8 boats) but it was just about all I could handle for my come back debut. The boats are so complicated now, strings and gadgets everywhere. I last sailed with Denis Surtees in May of 1979 in Durban where we finished second in a very windy world championship. Howard was a crew back then too but shifted to driving (indication of intelligence) and has stuck with the class all these years. He has won the world championship once and been second 5 times including 4 out of the last 5 years.

The 505 World Championships will be hosted by St. Francis Yacht Club the last week of August this year on Berkeley Circle. There should be a bit of breeze for that one, eh? Two races a day! 7 days of racing! This is my next anti aging prescription. The first dose was the Olympics at 45.

This weekend was my tryout. Howard says I passed. But he doesn’t know how my body feels today after four races yesterday and two on Saturday. Needless to say, I will have to spend the better part of every morning for the next 4 months working out (actually I do that anyway). My physical targets are; 6’2″ (got that covered) 215 pounds (need to gross up 8) and extremely agile and quick (no comment on those two). A crew in SF also needs to be immune to pain and cold. There is only one place we can go to improve Howard’s track record and that will be a tall order with 110 boats expected. But we are not intimidated by numbers. Heck, are ages added together are almost 110! 106 to be exact.

Anyway, I see this as another great adventure, a dream really if I can pull it off. And that is what life is all about, dreaming and realizing your dreams. Sometimes our dreams border on unreasonable. But getting as close to unreasonable as possible without going over is exactly where you want to be.

Oh, we did manage to win the Elvstrom/Zellerbach so I haven’t hurt Howard’s record so far.

The Bitter End Yacht Club has announced the line up for skippers at the 2009 Pro Am Regatta, October 31 to November 7, which includes Ed Baird, Paul Cayard, Morgan Larson, Zach Railey, Ken Read, and Anna Tunnicliffe.

The 23rd Annual Pro Am format provides the keen sailor an opportunity to crew for Olympic Medalists, America’s Cup winners, and World Champions in a unique (and tropical) racing environment. Interested racers should check out the early booking bonus through May 1.

For more information, visit the freshly launched Pro Am web site:


Over the past two days, I attended the inaugural World Yacht Racing Forum in Monaco. The first thing of note was the representation of sailing that the event brought together. To name a few people and organizations; Goran Petterson – President of ISAF, Mark Turner President of Offshore Challenges (which runs the Barcelona World Race, iShares Extreme 40 Series and Ellen MacArthur’s projects), Knut Frostad – CEO Volvo Ocean Race, the managers of the TP 52 MedCup, representatives of Alinghi and BMW Oracle, the top sailing journalists, respresentatives of Sail Oman, UBS, Pindar, Slam, Audi, St. Francis YC, Royal Hong Kong YC, RYA, the Monsoon Cup, Yachting Korea, Sir Keith Mills who co-chaired London 2012 and