John Thomson: My Ultimate Sailing moment

Published on November 13th, 2014

Photographer Sharon Green, in her newly released coffee table book 30 Years of Ultimate Sailing, sought out the leaders in the sport to share their Ultimate Sailing moments. Here John Thomson provides his…

Having grown up on Long Island, I’ve done a lot of sailing over the years on the East Coast; generally experiencing light air, flat water events that were often foggy, sometimes beautiful, but always different. We also did many SORC races, some of them very pleasant and some quite rough, but we always managed to enjoy the sailing and the competition.

I’ve sailed in many other places around the world too – Japan, Germany, France, England, Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand – and each destination had its own unique and local character where we managed to have fun, but sometimes the cold, rain, fog and wind made us wonder why we were doing this to ourselves!

Then we went to the Caribbean and sailed in the luxury of warm breezy air and water to match. To me, this was approaching sailing paradise. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did.

In 1996 we were fortunate enough to find ourselves in Hawaii representing the U.S. in the Kenwood Cup. This was truly our vision of ultimate sailing: strong breeze, big waves and warm water. And the sailing was close, tough and fantastic. There’s nothing like beating up to Diamond Head in enormous waves and close-quarter tacking… running all night in 25 to 30 knots of breeze downwind to Kaula Rock, wearing just shorts and a t-shirt… having Josh in the rig as we picked our way through the coral heads off of Niihau… slamming into the huge waves on the back side of Kauai… and, as always, the heavy-air surfing run down the Molokai Channel to the finish and a team victory.

The Kenwood Cup was truly my dream experience. After hundreds of regattas, we finally raced in sailing paradise and won.

Click here for information about Sharon Green’s 30 Years of Ultimate Sailing.

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