Peter William Holmberg was born on October 4, 1960 on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He and elder brother John were introduced to the sport of sailing at ages four and six respectively by their parents, Richard and Louise Holmberg. Richard was based on St. Thomas while serving on submarines in the Navy and returned on his honeymoon, never to leave. Both Richard and Louise went on to become great sailors, Richard competing in the 1972 Olympics, and Louise wining the Sunfish Worlds.
The waters of the Virgin Islands became Peter’s playground and he was soon competing in local races at the newly formed St. Thomas Yacht Club. By the age of nine he was competing in national events, capped by a third place finish at the Sunfish World Championships at the age of 16.
He attended Saints Peter & Paul Catholic School, then pursued a non-traditional path toward his Charlotte Amalie High School diploma via high school classes, night courses at the College of the Virgin Islands (now the University of the Virgin Islands), and GED studies.
Holmberg then transferred to California’s Santa Rosa Junior College, continued on to Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, and finally Sonoma State University, where he competed on the university’s sailing team and graduated with a B.A. degree in Management.
Returning to St. Thomas, Holmberg set his sights on the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, California, while working as a sail maker to make ends meet. He chose the single handed Finn class and trained locally for a year before raising enough cash to buy a Finn and head to the States for the final year of training. He represented the Virgin Islands well, placing 11th among the 36-boat field.
Encouraged by his initial success, Peter hatched a plan to campaign for the 1988 Olympic Games in Pusan, South Korea. This campaign, however, would benefit from better strategic planning, a longer fundraising period and a two-year training regimen.
Peter traveled to South Korea a year prior to the Games to compete in the Pre-Olympic Regatta. He finished eighth, and acquired a wealth of knowledge about the event supplied boats and the challenging conditions off Pusan.
Peter’s reconnaissance mission spurred two key decisions — to purchase a Korean-made Hyundai Finn, and to train in the waters of the VI which best replicated the rough sailing conditions off South Korea. Holmberg’s strategy worked. At age 27, Peter won the silver medal at the XXIV Olympic Games, the first Olympic medal ever won by the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Following this Olympic success, Peter was spotted by Bill Koch and his team on the Maxi Matador. Peter became the team helmsman and helped Matador 2 win the 1990 Maxi World Championships- his first taste of pro-sailing’s rewards. More and more pro sailing opportunities came Peter’s way, and a new career path slowly emerged.
In 1992 Peter ventured into match racing and built a team of Virgin Islanders to compete on the international circuit. He began as an unranked skipper, competing with wild card slots, but moved up quickly in the world ranks. By 1999 he was ranked No. 3 in the world.
Peter reached the pinnacle of match racing – a No. 1 world ranking — when he won the 2001- 2002 Swedish Match Tour Championship with an impressive run that included victories at the Bermuda Gold Cup, Steinlager Line 7 Cup, and Congressional Cup.
In 1996, Peter formed the Virgin Islands America’s Cup Challenge, a syndicate later calling itself Team Caribbean that would quest for the 2000 America’s Cup in Auckland, New Zealand. The syndicate united the people of the Virgin Islands and raised an astounding $5 million towards its budget. But unable to secure the necessary amount by the deadline to start boat construction, the team opted to merge with Team Dennis Conner in January 1999. Peter transitioned to the afterguard of Stars & Stripes, competing in the 2000 America’s Cup Challenger Selection Series where Team Dennis Conner ultimately finished third.
Peter then joined the Oracle BMW Team as helmsman for the 2003 America’s Cup. After three years of boat development and training, Oracle finished a close second in the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series.
Holmberg returned to St. Thomas to take some time off from racing and recharge. During this break he married his sweetheart Denise Balzac of Puerto Rico.
Late in 2003 Peter accepted an offer from the 2003 America’s Cup winner Alinghi of Switzerland to join the Defender as a helmsman. Then followed three years of intensive training and boat development in Europe, where in the contest that followed, Alinghi defeated Emirates Team New Zealand 5-2 in the finals to successfully defend the 2007 America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain.
Following that remarkable victory, Peter returned home to the Virgin Islands. A master helmsman now, capable of achieving perfect balance on any boat, Peter sought that same sense of equilibrium in his personal life. And he found it — perched on the deck of his tropical home on the same island where his journey to the pinnacle of sailing had begun decades before. Peter now bases himself in St. Thomas and offers professional sailing, consulting, and speaking services to clients world-wide.
With the Caribbean Sea at his back, the Atlantic Ocean at his feet, a panoramic view of the world’s finest sailing venue spread before him – and a new vision for the future in his head.