Seahorse June 2006
The end of another lap is near. I am in New York right now about to depart for Portsmouth on leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race. It has been an adventurous trip and at times, a bit more eventful than necessary. But the race did not disappoint, and I have had another great experience that I won’t forget.
When I look back on the Pirates of the Caribbean project, the first thing that comes to mind is that we started only one year ago. It was on May 3, 2005 that I went to Burbank for that first meeting with Disney executives. We launched the boat 50 days before the first in port race. We almost sank on the first night of leg one. The boat “flew” to Cape Town. We thought we were going to sink on leg 2. We repaired the boat once and for all in Melbourne. Since then we have been on the podium every leg and every import race but one.
That track, a steadily uphill climb, has been very satisfying for me. I have been sailing for 40 years now. Figuring out what end of the starting line to start at or what jib to put up is not what excites me really. What I do enjoy the most is to put together a team, face challenges like the late start and all that came with it, the repairs, etc. deal with all the personal issues, manage the ups and the downs. And to find ourselves in second place overall is a beautiful thing. May be too good to be true. We will see. There are still three legs and 2 in port races to go. A lot can and will happen. The forecast out of New York today is for 25 knots form the east for two or three days. That will punish the boats and crews. A breakdown is always a possibility in these conditions. In any case, it has been a great ride.
Here in the USA we had to full compliment of Disney execs on The Black Pearl. First, Roy Disney came sailing with us for the Baltimore import. Then Dick Cook, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios and Mark Zoradi, President of Buena Vista International for the restart out of Annapolis, and yesterday, the big chief, Bob Iger came out for a ride on New York Harbor. Disney has truly enjoyed their participation in the race and been exposed to something that they would never have thought of 5 years ago. Kudos to Glenn Bourke and his team at VOR for presenting this idea to Disney.
My plans for the future? Professionally, I have no big projects planned and that is fine with me. I will sail a couple of regattas this summer with George Andreadis on his new TP 52 Atalanti. Russell Coutts will be onboard as well so maybe we can conspire something. Personally, I want to speed a good chunk of the next two years around home and my family. My kids, Danny and Allie, are in their last two years of high school. They are driving cars, dating, having a few drinks, and of course trying to do well in school to get into a good university, all the usual teenager stuff. I want to be near them, be their friend, help them with all of that. They are both very active and good sailors. Today they leave for the US High School National Championship in Detroit. Last year they came fifth. I want to go to these events with them next year. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I have spent plenty of months following my own career. There is a cost to that and now it is time to invest in the family. Later this summer, I will go visit a few universities with my son. He wants to go to school in Southern California. My daughter, who is a year younger, wants to go to New York University to study interior design. They will be gone from the nest in 24 months so now is the time.
I would definitely like to take on another project in the future. Maybe the Cup, maybe a new event. We will see. As I said before, now at 47 years of age, what I like is having a
goal, building a team to take it on and then living and managing the path to success. That is the most satisfying thing for me. Sure, I still like sailing, but I like the team side the most. I thought I might like to sail the double handed round the world race, but right now, sitting here thinking about going upwind in 25 true in a flat bottomed boat for two days, that doesn’t sound very appealing to me.
So for now, I am concentrating on finishing strong in the Volvo Ocean Race. Five weeks left to go to Gothenberg. Torben is breathing down my neck, again. He is tough. Bouwe Bekking has a fast boat in Movistar. ABN1 is gone…different class of boat. Congratulations to them and especially Juan K, they won the race before it ever started. That is the way to do it.
OK. I am heading down to The Pearl. See you in Portsmouth.
The Black Pearl