Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Magic Carpet Rides - The 41 Year Old Man & The Sea

The Arrival (of the big dude with two flares ...to the backyard)
 4th of July 2012 in Maine at Cam Lewis' Big House on Vinalhaven Island

"He rested sitting on the un-stepped mast and sail and tried not to think but only to endure"
 -Ernest Hemingway / The Old Man And The Sea - 1952

The Old Man And The Sea. My father's favorite book and a big influence on me as a child. Some of my earliest memories are of Dad reading this book to me as I nodded off to sleep, the harmony of his soft voice with the wind and waves echoing outside my bedroom window providing a euphoric calm. My father was my captain and my mentor and it makes me happy that after all these years my dad is undoubtedly very proud looking toward me from the stars at my career in the sailing world.

Being involved with the professional sailing media is a unique and ironic place for me to be. You see, I can't sail my way out of a plastic bag. Or a paper bag. Even one of those biodegradable bags would give me problems. This is a slightly bizarre situation considering my love and affinity for the water from a very young age. My folks had a quaint little waterfront vacation house in the California Delta and I was a bonified river rat at age 7,  frolicking and fiddling around with every water toy available... capsizing Hobies and Lasers and our 11' Mongomery dinghy, and spinning around on the first generation of Jet-Ski's until my Mom would bellow my name at dusk. The sound of her voice echoing across the slough meant it was time to reluctantly drag my pruned body inside for a hot shower and dinner. However as I got older and the inevitable teenage boy emotions kicked in, I regrettably turned my back on the Sea, my leisure interests leaned sharply toward music and design and girls. I spent endless nights in the driveway strapped into a Sony Walkman the size of a deli sandwich, visions of logos and slogans dancing around in my head while I skateboarded until my tailbone was sore. Shortly after that I started riding Vespas and became obsessed with the Mod scene, my athletic outlet was duffing around our little crappy golf course in Redwood City, yet the only tactical and navigational skills I was cultivating were limited to gassing up my scooter and remembering to pick up my plaid pants from the dry cleaner in time. Here all these guys were out ripping across lakes and bays and oceans, and I was huddled inside at my desk listening to the Dave Clark Five, drinking way too much coffee into the wee hours and attempting to learn this new thing called Photoshop on my brother's old tractor-sized Mac. It's provided me with some cool skills and talent, but I envy all of my friends who realized the freedom of the wind and the surge of a sailboat when they were young and impressionable and adhered to this lifestyle from the get-go. These guys and girls have continued to chase that unparalleled physical & mental rush for their whole entire lives only to get better and brighter - the best in the world now. Adapting to and shaping the climate of our current somewhat sexy state of sailing is a rewarding feeling I imagine, but would not be possible without years of experimentation, mistakes & triumphs, and miles and miles on the water. Now looking back, there was a time when the ocean was calling my name too, but I wasn't listening. I chose to obsess on popular culture and pursue a career in graphic design and branding. That's why despite literally missing the boat, it's a great pleasure for me to strenghten my bond with the water again after all these years. I've missed you old friend. The Sea is a powerful and mythical place and without any warning She has brought me back into her clutches.  If I could go back in time and visit a 13 year old me, I'd tell myself : "Dude, I know that you think skateboarding and 7 Seconds are the best it will ever get, but you're blowing it, little me. You need to go SAILING right now. And besides... you are going to fall off your skate really bad in 1990 and hit your head anyway and you'll never pick up a skateboard ever again."

"...and little dude, 7 Seconds will end up kind of sucking."

I'm not completely green, I do get out there every now and then with my friends in SF for the basics and I've definitely made some progress over the years, but I easily fall into the 'media guy' role when I'm on a boat and I haven't had the time and resources to really attack the sport of sailing as a legitimate sailor and not just a well educated and well connected piece of rail meat. I'm not happy with this arrangement at all, but for the moment, my time is best spent on shore managing various media outlets for the guys who actually do sail. I am incredibly passionate about sailing and fairly proficient with the history and terminology, but I look forward to the near future when I am confident with my skills onboard a boat. ...and even though I won't ever get the opportunity to pull a Hot Tub Time Machine move to steer little me into the world of sailing, I have been provided with the extreme privilege of steering some of the fastest and most technologically advanced sailboats in the world. For me to be able to do this is a complete honor and a life-changing experience, and I know that my father is right there next to me every time. The fever for attacking the waves and the power of being at the helm is strong for sure, and once you've felt that lift, there is no denying the drug when an opportunity arises again.

Below are a few of my favorite personal sailing moments... I can't thank these guys enough for being so generous with their drug, for opening my mind and including me in on their world ...and most importantly imparting some of their invaluable wisdom & experience along the way.
Thanks to you I am now both thinking AND enduring. Cheers dudes.

Gitana 13 - Gateway Drug
2008 - San Francisco
Gitana 13 had just broken the Gold Route Record from NY-SF and I was invited onboard for their media/vip test sail a few days before they left for the SF to Yokohama record. Lionel Lemonchois and the crew were total dudes and happy to chat and share their experiences with all of us. I was well aware of the impressive history of the boat as former Innovation Explorer, Orange, and Kingfisher 2, and being onboard this legendary vessel was intoxicating. To increase an already perfect experience, Lionel and the guys got the boat up to 34 knots. This was my first experience sailing on a boat like this and the main reason I persued a career in the sailing world. I shot a rough little video clip below while we were flying in the open water outside the Golden Gate Bridge, a bit primitive but captures the moment. The photos of us flying a hull in the slot are thanks to Peter Lyons, more of his great work is at Peter Lyons / Lyons Imaging.
A few of my photos are here: Gitana 13 in San Francisco


Alphena One - Shakedown
2010 - La Baule FR
After working with Loïck Peyron for a couple of years, we finally met in St. Malo just before the start of the Route du Rhum. He invited me to his neck of the woods the following week to have a go on a little day sailor he had a hand in designing, the very sexy Alphena One. It was a light wind day on the Bay of La Baule, a perfect opportunity to get to know Loïck a little better and get some sailing tips from the master himself. It was a memorable day out there for sure and I think we both came away from our time together with the conclusion that 1. I am a crazy American, and 2. I make a mean ballast. Many thanks to Loïck for taking the time and to Duff for the photo. Lots of great shots on Duff's site duffcomm. For more on Alphena Yachts have a look to alphenayachts.com

Energy Team AC45 - 6th Man Planking
2011 - Plymouth, England
While working for Energy Team France for the America's Cup World Series leg in Plymouth, they had me on as 6th Man during one of the races. A complete surprise from Loïck and Bruno, I had no idea this was happening until I was brought some foulies to the media center and ushered onto the support rib minutes before the race. Once on the AC45, the only debriefing I received was from Peter Greenhalgh who told me to "stay as flat as possible dude" ..thus, the AC45 'planking technique' was born. A good technique obviously, Peter Stoneberg had the same style as 6th Man with Yann & the guys in San Diego when we won our first race. Because of the surprise circumstances of my ride I don't have any pics other than the one of us above in a tangle with Aleph and Artemis courtesy of Morris Adant, but if you want to see my big helmeted head clumsily tacking across the AC45, have a look to this video below. Some of my photos of Energy Team are hereEnergy Team ACWS
And for more from Morris Adant check out his site FlyPicture


Banque Populaire V - Training with Legends

2011 - Lorient FR
I returned home from Plymouth with Loïck, and still on a high from the fast and furious guest spot on the Energy Team 45, two days later I was scheduled to join him for a training day on Banque Populaire V with his other guest Luca Basani from Wally Yachts. They had just stepped a new mast on BPV and this was a little technical outing with the dream team to test everything. At one point Loïck gave me the helm while flying a hull at 24 knots. Talk about a white-knuckle ride. The boat performs beautifully even with a gringo at the wheel. Many thanks to Brian Thompson for the photo. Below is a nice video piece from the trip I shot and edited to thank the team, and here are a handful of photos from our day: Banque Populaire V Training Day

Race For Water MOD70 - Cam's Test Drive
2012 - Newport, RI
The night I arrived in Newport for the America's Cup, I met with Steve and Yvan Ravussin at the Black Pearl. They invited me and a friend onboard their boat the next day for a sail with Cam Lewis and photographer Billy Black. An incredible trip. The first photo above is me doing my best impression of Steve's relaxed helming style shot by John Saul. The second photo is a great onboard snap by Billy Black, one of the best maritime photographers around. Thanks for the pic Billy. Have a look at his site for some great sailing pics: billyblack.com

Oman Musandam MOD70 - The new Sid Vicious
2012 - Newport, RI
At the MOD70 KRYS Ocean Race warm-up party at the Newport Shipyard, Brian Thompson invited me for a ride on the Oman MOD70 the next morning, the team was doing some practice maneuvers for a couple of hours followed by a photoshoot by Mark Lloyd. Another great day, very cool to sail with Brian again and spend more time with Ryan Breymaier and Sidney Gavignet. At the end of the day, Sid (Vicious) entrusted me with the stick and I got Musandam up to 22 knots, hull flying. Big thanks to Meredith Erickson for snapping the action shot. A handful of of my photos from these trips in Newport are hereMOD70's in Newport and I also put together a cool video piece of my day on Oman for the guys:  Training day on Oman Musandam (video)

l'Hydroptere - So THIS is flying...
2012 - San Francisco
As a thank you for some work I did for the uber-talented photographer Christophe Launay and the Hydroptere team, Alain Thebault & Jacques Vincent invited me onboard for an afternoon with the sailing team while the boat was in San Francisco. They had me out there during one of Christophe's photo shoot days (full gallery here: l'Hydroptere in SF by sealaunay) and it was such a privilege to sail in SF with these guys and to spend some good memories flying across the bay at 32 knots with Jean Le Cam and Yves Parlier. We were also joined by the record breaking speed-crazed kiteboarder Robbie Douglas, what a mellow cool guy. Thanks to Yves for the nice pic of me in the hot seat and to Christophe Favreau for the snap from the helicopter. More of Christophe's work here: christophefavreau.com

Hope to see you on the water very soon...

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