Looking back on the previous year and ahead at the next is a healthy process that I do every year. On the race course 2017 was a great year. My two race programs were both successful, and immensely enjoyable.
The TP52 class where I drive Provezza is the worlds top grand prix racing class these days, and I am very fortunate to be a part of our sport at such a high level. We have a wonderful team, unique in that we sail with the owner and some of his best mates onboard, which speaks volumes to the character of the team. In a class that is 99% professional, we take great pride in competing at this level with our mixed team of pros and amateurs. It is a greater challenge for us, and it is also a greater reward. We finished 4th for the 2017 season, wining one event, and nearly winning several others.
The year ahead is a huge growth year for the class, with 9 new boats being built, and several new teams joining the class. We are one of the teams with a new boat under construction, and have a challenging and exciting new-boat learning process ahead of us. I particularly look forward to this interface between the sailors and the design team, where we as the sailors are given a new and untested platform and must use our collective knowledge and skill to test different modes and settings to get the boat to it’s full design potential. This human factor is the greatest variable on the table in front of us, and I relish the opportunity to learn all we can with my teammates over the coming months.
The 52 Super Series 2018 schedule is an exciting one, starting in May, finishing in September, with two events in Croatia, one in Portugal, and two in Spain. The website for the series is quite good, with stories on all the teams, live race coverage, and results. http://www.52superseries.com
My other prized race program is the J Class yacht Topaz. These are replicas of early 1900 America’s Cup boats that are being built to original designs, but incorporating the very latest technology and materials. It is a fantastic class that is seeing a huge revival and interest from new owners. All of the boats are crewed by the best sailors in the world, and being raced at the highest levels. Racing these huge 140 foot yachts with 25-30 crew presents some of the greatest challenges in racing, and the experience is this wonderful combination of nostalgia for the incredible history of these boats and our sport of sailing, mixed with some of the most intense, dangerous, and close racing ever seen. Gets my heart pounding just thinking about it. We have a wonderful team led by our German owners that put spirit, camaraderie, and friendship on equal level of importance to results. It was our first year racing together as a team in 2017 and we made great strides throughout the year. We have put all we learned into some upgrades and changes to the boat, and look forward to improving our performance even more in 2018. Our race season starts in St. Barths and continues to Palma, Sardinia, and finally St. Tropez.
On a personal level, 2017 was one hell of a year, with two category 5 hurricanes hitting my home in the Virgin Islands. Physically I survived, the home that I built held strong, with the only major damage being a hole blasted into my roof when an entire roof from another house blew over the hill and hit me. But the emotional blow is what can’t be seen, and it is a long process, that rocks you at first, but ultimately makes you a stronger person, and a better society. We must all look past the difficulty and towards the fresh start that ultimately comes. It may sound cruel, but I truly believe that these hurricanes make our islands and our people better. Post-traumatic growth is a very real phenomena, and can be very rewarding.
And on another personal note, I am very excited to be taking delivery of my new floating home in February. An Outremer 45 will be my new home for the six months that I spend primarily racing in Europe. It has been a dream to own a catamaran one day to travel and explore the world, and I chose the Outremer 45 catamaran based on it’s design and solid reputation. She is a performance cruiser that should perfectly satisfy my desire for a fast and comfortable home. I have been greatly supported in this project by my good friends at North Sails who helped me find that perfect balance of fast and durable sails. Also helping me take this huge leap has been Outremer, B&G, Master Volt, and Harken. It is a great team of partners that I will support in providing feedback and helping to make their products better.
Here’s to wishing all of us a wonderful 2018.