Welcome to Peter Holmberg's official website. Peter's singular commitment to performance sailing has earned him an Olympic medal, the World No. 1 rank in Match Racing, and victory in the America's Cup, the oldest trophy in all of sport. The Caribbean's most famous sailor is living proof that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things. Peter now bases himself in the Virgin Islands and offers professional sailing, consulting, and speaking services to clients world-wide.

February Update

Well a nice start to 2017, so feeling like this might be a great year for me.  Not sure I can say that about the rest of this crazy world of late!  First up for me was my new project with the Turkish PROVEZZA team on the 52 Super Series. We scheduled a few days of sail testing in Florida, which was also a good opportunity for me to meet the other team members and get familiar with driving this JV designed TP52. These are the Formula 1’s of monohull racing and the boats are a true joy to sail. The level of development on all aspects of the project are almost as high as the America’s Cup (but without the extra three zero’s), so the design, sails, coaching, and talent onboard is fantastic. Driving a 52 with a tiller gives great precision and feedback, and brings the natural sailing style and skill to a big boat. Really nice.

Three of us then did an Etchells regatta as an added training session to get us better in race sync prior to our first 52SS event. We chartered an Etchells and launched it the morning of the regatta, one of the Miami Winter Series events being held nearby in Biscayne Bay. This 30 foot keel boat, with three crew, and some very good fleets of talent to race against, was an easy way to get real race time together. We had about 50 boats, ended up fourth, and had some valuable race practice with our driver, tactician, and trimmer from the big 52 all learning language and style under race pressure. Good stuff.

Next up was our first event of the 52 Super Series, Quantum Key West Race Week. This will be followed by an event in Miami, and then 4 more events in Europe through 2017. Our week started a little rough, but as we settled down and started to work better as a team, we slowly moved up in the standings. Going into the final race we were leading a tight pack, but a bad start by me cost us and we finished tied for second in the event, but fourth after tiebreak rules. Not too bad for our first event, still in the hunt for the overall series, and lots of room for improvement, so very excited about the year ahead. Add in a great owner and some great guys on the team, and I am very much looking forward to the year ahead.

Next up for me is a trip to France to start working with the Outremer Catamaran team on my new 45. Following this will be the Miami 52 Super Series event, and then my first event with my other big project, the 140 foot J boat TOPAZ, at the St. Barths Bucket. I know. Hard work, but someone has to do it! 🙂  All the best, peter

 

 

2 0 1 7 !!

Happy New Year to everyone. I start the year with some big news on an exciting project that I have just started. After years of thinking and dreaming about it, I have finally decided to get a performance/cruising catamaran to travel and use as a base of operations when I am racing overseas.

After researching everything on the market, I arrived at an Outremer 45. This company has found the perfect balance of incorporating the comforts needed for living, within a sexy performance oriented catamaran. So yes, you can have both, a fast and fun cat to sail, and a comfortable home to travel the world. And I believe more of my friends and clients will see this perfect solution and consider following my lead. Outremer has built a solid reputation of building ocean-going cats for over 20 years and their new line of cats take advantage of all they have learned, and then incorporates modern thinking and design to achieve a perfect cat. To see their range and learn more about Outremer, see their website at http://www.catamaran-outremer.com

So in addition to reporting on my professional sailing around the world, I will also be updating everyone on my new adventure with Outremer.

Best wishes for a great year ahead, peterimg_2560

 

December Update

I am about to wrap up another good year of professional sailing.  It has been a busy year, having done the full Caribbean circuit, followed by a packed summer of racing in the Newport area, and finally some big events in Europe at the end of summer.

My goal for 2017 is quality, not quantity.  And I am very excited about my two new projects, driving the TP52 PROVEZZA and the J Class yacht TOPAZ.  It is interesting that after 10 years of being back on the Pro Sailing circuit following my 10 year stint in the Americas Cup that I have finally found myself back in the driving role, as opposed to the tactical role.  The fact is that on the pro tour most of the available jobs are as tactician.  And it’s a great role, basically leading the team, coaching an owner-driver, and playing the tricky tactical game.  But the fact is that I spent 99% of my racing career as a driver, and making boats go fast is what i do best, and enjoy most, so I am super keen to be driving again.

And the two circuits that I will be racing in are the best two you could ask for- the 52 Super Series and the J Class.  The 52 Super Series is the highest level of monohull racing in our sport, on par with the incredible racing we had in the Americas Cup before they switched to multihulls.  The campaigns are totally professional and filled with the best talent in the sport.  And the racing is razor close, with heaps of action.  I will be sailing on PROVEZZA, a Turkish team, with Tony Rey as my tactician.  We start training this week, and our first event will be Quantum Key West Race Week in mid January.

My other project is with the new J Class yacht TOPAZ.  The J Class for those not aware, is the type of boats that were raced in the early 1900’s in the Americas Cup, huge 140 foot majestic beauties.  Well there is now a revival taking place, where owners are either rebuilding an original, or building to the original plans, but with modern technology, particularly in the rig and sails.  There are currently about 6 or 7 of these J boats sailing, and another 2 or 3 in build.  And the racing is awesome.  A mixture of history, grace, extreme loads, power, complex team work, and exciting racing.  And this year is a big one, with a series of events planned to coincide with the Americas Cup in Bermuda, and then a World Championship in Newport.

So all good, really thrilled to have these wonderful programs lined up.  Hoping to have a great year of racing, travel to some beautiful places, meet new people, and share good times with friends and competitors.

Wishing everyone a great 2017.

peter

August Update

I have just concluded racing in four events on the East Coast of the US in June and July, mainly in the Newport, RI area. My first two events were on the TP52 SPOOKIE, doing the Leukemia Cup and the NYYC Annual Regatta in Newport in June. We finished a close second in both of them. And by close I mean a couple seconds after 2 hours of racing in the Leukemia Cup to a smaller boat that we owed time on handicap, and in the NYYC Annual Regatta, in the final race of the series, on the final leg to the finish, we had to avoid a boat in distress and our opponent got past us to win the race, and the series by one point. That’s racing folks!

My next event was to be the Newport to Bermuda Race on the SPOOKIE, but the crew of our boat (and our entire class of grand prix race boats) all decided to cancel at the last moment due to a forecast of near hurricane conditions that were predicted to hit us as we crossed the Gulf Stream. A few unhappy owners who had committed to the costs and hotel rooms, but sorry, matters of safety and lives far out-weigh those of cost in my book.

I was then presented with an opportunity to join the TP52 PHOENIX team being led by Paul Cayard, with whom I have raced with many times over the years, and I decided to accept and thus start up with a new team. We did the NYYC Race Week in mid July and finished a respectable 3rd. Two weeks later we raced at the Edgartown Race Weekend in Martha’s Vineyard and the team came together nicely to score a 3rd, 1st, and 2nd in the three event series.

The PHOENIX team has now decided to jump over to Europe and join the big boys in the TP52 Super Series for the final two events of the 2016 season. First up will be the TP52 World Championships in Menorca Spain in September, followed by the Cascais Cup in Portugal in October. So some very exciting racing ahead for us in what I consider to be the hottest class of boats and the greatest concentration of talent racing these days.

Next up for me on my race schedule is a training session on the 140-foot J Boat TOPAZ. This is the latest launch in a growing fleet of these mighty J boats from the early 1900’s America’s Cups that owners are now restoring or building new to the original designs. There are scheduled to be eight of these majestic yachts on the starting line next year for a series of races that will include a showdown in Bermuda before the America’s Cup and then a World Championship in Newport. It should be incredible.

Following this training session in late August I head straight to Sardinia, Italy for the Rolex Maxi Regatta to race with an Australian team on a new Southern Wind 82. Exciting and fun times. All de best, peter

May Update

Well it’s a wrap, the 2016 Caribbean racing season is now done and dusted. My race tour started with the Caribbean 600 in February, and just finished with the Voile de St. Barths in mid April. Thanks to some good work by the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) and each of the individual regattas, this region now dominates the international race calendar for the winter/spring period. The weather is great this time of year, logistics are getting easier, and the events are all lifting their games and providing first class racing.

And overall it was a good year for racing down here, with higher than average winds, some very nice weather, and lots of good teams competing. My season started with two events on the RP 82 Highland Fling , first the Caribbean 600 in February, and then a week later the Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten. The 600 was an epic race, but unfortunately we had rig issues ¾ of the way through and had to retire. The Heineken was also a good event, with big fleets, challenging courses, and lots of shore side entertainment. Following this was the St. Barths Bucket, where I drove the 56m Rosehearty, with Paul Cayard calling tactics. Big, comfortable, and lots of fun, yet a full-on challenge to race this big of a yacht safely against a fleet of other big boats around granite marks. We managed to win our class after a tense final race while dealing with some gear failures.

Next up for me was the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) on the TP52 Spookie. This regatta offers a great variety of racing, with short courses that weave their way around rocks and islands with heaps of tricky current and wind to play. With 20+ kts of breeze every day, this event offered some of the best racing ever. We followed this up with the BVI Spring Regatta the next week and again some solid wind and scenic courses giving us loads of fun on the TP52. We won both these events, although the competition was not great, so we hope that teams do a better job networking in advance next year about which events to attend.

The final event of my Caribbean tour was the Voiles de St. Barths in mid April. Our class had no shortage of competition, with three other TP52’s, plus the Kerr 53 Tonnerre and the Kerr 55 Varuna. This event broke the windy mold and we had three days of very light and tricky racing. Luckily St. Barths is one of the nicest places on the planet, so being delayed ashore wasn’t all that bad! We managed a second at this event and it showed us that we still have quite a bit to work on before our next series of races.

Next up for me in June is a series of events on Spookie in the Newport, RI area, and then the Newport to Bermuda Race. We will have some serious competition at all these events from some really good TP52 teams, so the challenge ahead is a good one that I am really looking forward to.

All the best, peter

February 2016 Update

It has been a great start to my year of racing. First up was the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race in mid January on the TP52 Spookie. This is about 160 miles of downwind racing along the Florida Keys, playing the Gulf Stream currents, the shallow waters along the reef, the imaginary boundary along the keys set by the organizers, and the weather systems in play. We had a good race, plenty of sail changes through the night, and finished at about 4am, wining first overall.

Next up was Quantum Key West Race Week, also on Spookie, and sailing against a tough group that included the 2015 TP52 World Champions, another top TP52, plus a new 45 footer. The racing was hot, with many of them decided by just seconds. Going into the final race we were ½ point behind Quantum, so the race winner would win the week. Unfortunately the weather got nasty and the committee abandoned racing, so we ended the week in second, ½ point out of first. Bugger!

But two great races for our Spookie team, who lifted their game with every race. It’s a great boat, a wonderful crew, and I look forward to our next events together in the Caribbean.

My most recent event was last week, the Caribbean 600 on the 82foot Highland Fling. This race is becoming one of the new classic distance races of the world. For these reasons- February (ie. winter), 600 miles, start and finish in Antigua, while rounding 11 different islands, wearing t-shirts, under a full moon, with winds between 15 and 25 knots, while screaming along at up to 25knots. What is there not to like about it?! Most of the world’s heavy hitters now make this a part of their race schedule. We had prepared our inshore boat pretty well for this offshore test, but knew that we would be up against more than just the competition. We had a nice start and were in a tight pack with the four Maxi 72s for most of the race, so having a nice race within a race, always good for pushing yourself. We were leading our pack into Guadelupe, with only a couple more legs to go in the race, when we had problems with our rigging holding up the mast and had to retire. A real shame, as we were probably looking at a top 3 result, and our boat and team had been performing so well. Even this disappointment though will not erase the sweet memories of rounding Nevis and St. Kitts at sunset, rounding Saba at 10pm only a couple hundred feet from shore, rounding St. Barths and St. Maarten in darkness, racing just meters from our pack of boats all through this time, dolphins playing with us, and the general life onboard doing an offshore race with 20 of your new best friends. Truly a fantastic race that I hope to do many more times.

Now home for a couple days to wash my cloths, and then it’s off to the Heineken regatta in St. Maarten tomorrow, also on the Highland Fling. This time I intend to finish all the races and help get our team in the chocolates!

All de best, peter

Thanks 2015, and hello 2016 !!

At this start of the New Year it’s always good to look back at the past year, and ahead at the next, to make sure I stop and appreciate this great sailing journey that I am on.

My 2015 started with racing a TP52 in Cape Town South Africa, which is a great place to sail, and an even greater place to visit. I followed this up with the Caribbean racing season and three regattas on the Carkeek 40 SPOOKIE, and three events on the Briand 130 Superyacht P2. Some great racing, good results, and even better people that I did it all with.

My next big event was the Around Block Island Race on the new 100’ COMANACHE. This is the newest, biggest, hottest, and most breakthrough boat launched in the past few years. Sailing her was like getting a ride on the space shuttle. Truly a special occasion. We ended up wining the race and setting a new course record. What a blast, and thanks to Kenny Read for the invite!

Following this was the Transpac on the Santa Cruz 70 HOLUA, a 2000-mile race from Los Angeles to Hawaii. For a short course specialist like me, this is like a sprinter doing a marathon. I did my first Transpac 4 years before, so I was looking forward to this one and being more comfortable with the all the nuances of distance racing. It proved to be one of the most incredible sailing experiences in my life, blasting along in the pitch dark, like skiing down hill blindfolded and having to rely on all your senses to survive. Dolphins, whales, squalls, endless surfing, no shower for 10 days, freeze dried food, and sailing into Hawaii at sunrise. Epic.

Next up on my world tour were two events in the TP52 Superseries in Spain and Portugal on the new SPOOKIE 52. This series is the highest level of professional racing in our sport, and was an incredible challenge for our team. We got spanked in the first event as the rookies, but did a great job of learning and came back to win a couple races in the second event.

Immediately following this was the 50th Anniversary E Scow Blue Chip in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. An invitation only gathering of all the past and present legends in our sport. Three days of racing and spending time with some of the greatest sailors, and people, on the planet, in the heartland of America, was really special. Finishing second to Bora Gulari was a bonus. And spending time with my old friend Buddy Melges was an added bonus.

And my final event of the year was the opportunity to match race again in small boats, right here in my home waters of St. Thomas. Match racing remains my favorite form of sailing, where all the fundamental skills of sailing come into play, in a format that brings sailing to the public.

Now looking ahead at 2016, it is shaping up to be another exciting year with a couple new events and new boats. I’ll start with a couple races on the TP52 SPOOKIE in the US, and then do the Caribbean 600 on the RP 82 HIGHLAND FLING. This race of 600 miles around 11 different islands is becoming one of the biggest events of the year and should be a blast. Following this will be several other Caribbean events jumping between Spookie and Fling, some racing on the East Coast, a race to Bermuda, and then a new Swan 115 for a few events in Europe.

Thanks to all the great teams, owners, and crew that I am so lucky to do all this great sailing with. And a special thanks to my sponsors and partners – Horizon Yacht Charters, Kaenon Sunglasses, and Seahorse Magazine.

Wishing you a healthy, happy, and fast 2016,

peter

October Report

Just wrapped up my final two big “away” events of the year. They were two very different type events, and both were great. First up was the TP52 Superseries final event of the year in Cascais, Portugal on the good yacht SPOOKIE. This was our second event after getting the boat and we were anxious to apply all that we learned as rookies in Palma Majorca a month earlier at our first event with the boat. The TP52 class is arguably the highest standard in big boat racing today, so what a fantastic challenge to go in there and measure ourselves against the best. After only one week of racing in this very mature and developed class, there was a tremendous amount of learning opportunities available to us, and that was the impetus for doing the Portugal event.

We opened the event with a 1-2 on the first day which was wonderful, yet daunting, as there is only one direction we could go from there in the remaining four days! But we continued to sail really well and did in fact put all that we learned from the first event into great practice. But unfortunately we were doomed by gear failure that was out of our control, with our new mainsails tearing completely in half in three of the ten races. In the end we borrowed a back-up main from one of our competitors in order to race the final two days, and nearly won a couple of those races. I can honestly say that we would have been in the top 5 at this event had we not been plagued with this gear failure, which is a great testament to our team and making great improvement from our first event in this exciting new class.

My second event was the 50th Anniversary of the E Scow Bluechip Regatta in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. This was a legendary one of a kind regatta. For fifty years they have been following a tradition of inviting a mystery rock star guest to their final championship of the year in the class. It’s a wonderful concept, where a rock star comes in and gets given a boat he has never sailed, and a crew that he has never met, and goes up against the top ranked teams in the class from around the nation at their final event of the year. It has been a huge success, with all the top Olympic, Americas Cup, and Volvo sailors accepting the invitation over the years. So on their 50th anniversary they decided to do something special and invite all the past mystery guests, plus some honorary legends, to a truly one of a kind event. Twenty four skippers accepted, and were randomly paired with 24 teams and their boats, for three days of some of the most memorable racing with the leaders and legends of our sport. Dave Ullman, Jonathan Mackee, Paul Cayard, Dave Perry, Peter Commette, Cam Lewis, Mark Reynolds, and the list goes on. This was probably the greatest gathering of Olympic Medalists and World Champions that have ever been assembled. On top of this was having Buddy Melges, Peter Harken, and Olaf Harken hanging around and sharing in this celebration for the whole weekend. What a truly wonderful experience.
Oh and there was some racing too. Six races over three days, in light, medium, and heavy winds, with all the tricks a small lake can throw at you, in one of the sports trickiest boats to sail. Good stuff. In the end Bora Gulari, two time Moth world champion and currently campaigning a Nacra 17 cat for the Olympics won. I finished second, just a few points behind Bora. But most important, I had a fantastic time racing a small boat again, pulling ropes, hiking out, and just plain sailboat racing against the best sailors in our sport. Reminded me of why I love sailing.

Back home now in the Virgin Islands to enjoy the end of the year, a few big meetings in our Caribbean Sailing Association that I chair, a couple training sessions, and a match race event to wrap up a lovely 2015. And then it will be the start of another year with new races, challenges, and adventures. Life is good.

A quick shout out to my partners Kaenon Polarized, the best sunglasses on the planet, and Horizon Yacht Charters, the only place to go when you want to go cruising on a boat. And a mini shout to a new clothing brand that my second cousin is promoting, called johnnie-O, some really nice simple threads.
All the best, peter

August Update

Just finished racing my first TP 52 SuperSeries event, this one in Palma Majorca Spain at the Copa del Rey. This class is considered the leading edge of our sport in big boat racing and is closest to what the Americas Cup used to be before it switched to catamarans. All the teams are fully funded, loaded with the best talent in sailing, highly professional, and the racing is close and intense. I was racing on Spookie, a 2011 Botin design just purchased from the previous owners who sailed her as Interlodge. The newer 2015 designed boats have an edge in anything over 12 knots, but we could hold our own in everything under that.

The racing was great. Two windward-leeward races a day, with two mile legs, and a 30 mile/7 leg distance race midweek, for a total of nine races, with no discards. We were the rookies in the 11 boat fleet and came in fully expecting to get our butts kicked, but also to learn heaps from the best, and get up to speed as quickly as possible in this new boat. And that’s exactly what happened. We had moments of brilliance when we were leading races, but also moments of pain and frustration, when a system onboard didn’t work as hoped, or we failed to execute a maneuver well, or we didn’t have the right set up for the conditions, or just weren’t going as fast as the others. In theory we should have finished last, the newbies to the fleet, so we are quite pleased to have finished 8th, only one point out of 7th, and only 15 points out of 5th place. The plan for the boat was to do this one event and then take her back to race in the states and the Caribbean, but the owners had such a good time and learned so much that they have decided to do the next and final 2015 SuperSeries event in Cascais Portugal next month before shipping her over. Now that we have wet our feet and seen the level of play and just what is needed to win at this high level, it gives us a fantastic challenge to learn from our recent event and have another opportunity to learn the boat and improve our game against some fully developed teams.

And that’s what I love about sailing, because it is so complex, diverse and challenging, that there is always room to learn, grow, and improve.

From 30,000 feet somewhere over Europe on my way back to my little island for a few weeks to recharge my race batteries.

Peter