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  Sailing Thrill Of A Lifetime

On a recent trip to St Martin in the Caribbean, I had the opportunity to sail an America Cup boat.

As background, a Canadian businessman purchased 6 former America Cup boats, which he then based in St Martin. He set up a concession where two identical boats race against each other on a shortened America Cup course, which is located a couple of miles off shore. This concession is one of the most popular in the Caribbean, especially if you are a sailor. They fill up very quickly. To avoid being disappointed, I was the first person at the cruise ship reservation desk. I arrived way before they opened for business on the first day of the cruise. They sold out in 30 minutes.

On the day of the event and prior to boarding the boats, the skipper asked for a volunteer to serve as guest skipper and also pick his crew. I immediately raised my hand and got the job. I proceeded to pick the biggest and strongest guys and gals and assigned crew positions. I picked a spot for myself next to the wheel for reasons that will be evident in a minute.

I enjoyed the entire race, even though we came in second by a hair, but the high point for me came after the race was completed. As soon as the race ended I asked the skipper to describe how the boat felt to handle. He asked me if I had any sailing experience and I explained I owned a Catalina 30. He then asked if I'd like to sail the boat the 3 or 4 miles back to the mooring. I almost climbed over him to get to the wheel!!

These America Cup boats are so responsive. They handle like a race car and you need "soft hands" to drive them. They are extremely ease to over steer.

In the picture, I'm the guy in the white "T" shirt standing next to the wheel. Do I look like I'm having a GREAT time? You bet I am.


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