Taylor Canfield: Taking his talents to ‘The Show’

Published on May 16th, 2013

At 24 years, Taylor Canfield is one of the brightest stars to recently come out of the US Virgin Islands. After dominating at Boston College, closing out his intercollegiate career by winning the inaugural Match Race National Championship, Taylor is now taking his talents to “The Show”, the World Match Racing Tour.

Scuttlebutt checks in with Taylor as his US One Sailing Team competes in Match Race Germany, the first event of the 2013 Tour:

What are you anticipating for your first year on the tour?

TC: I have had a chance to do some of the events in the past, so it is not completely new to me. I have competed in Bermuda for the past three years, and last year I was able to also compete in Chicago and Malaysia. And last year our team won both in Bermuda and Malaysia, so we feel ready for this next step.

Is there a different mindset now that you are doing the complete tour?

TC: I don’t think so. We are the new team on the tour, the youngest team. We are not going in with unrealistically high expectations. We feel good about what we have accomplished so far, and will continue to look at each tour event as an individual competition. Hopefully it will go well, and we will finish high enough events, and that will pace us in the overall tour standings.

Do you focus on event wins or overall standings?

TC: Unlike fleet racing, where a conservative approach helps to secure a good series score, you have to be aggressive in every match race. So you have to focus only on each event. There’s nothing conservative about it. You are always pushing, never leaving any food scraps on the table. If we do well enough in the events, the overall standings will take care of themselves.

What do you find most unique about the tour?

TC: What’s neat about the tour is that each event is so different from the others. There are six unique venues, each using a different boat. So you start recognizing each team’s strengths and weaknesses. Some of the teams are better in the heavier, slower boats while others might excel in the sportier, faster boats. So it’s important to quickly adapt to these difference to do well in the overall tour standings.

How well can you prepare for each event?

TC: Event specific training is difficult. The boats used on the tour are hard to find elsewhere. But you do try to learn about each boat, and possibly find something similar to help prepare for that event. Some of the boats require four people while others require five. The bulk of the prep happens just in advance of the event, where you arrive a couple days early and are given access to the boats for training.

Editor’s note: The 2013 Tour is using the Bavaria 40 (Germany), KM 36 (South Korea), DS 37 (Sweden), Tom 28max (USA), IOD (Bermuda), and Foundation 36 (Malaysia).

What are your observations about match racing in the U.S.

TC: While I am from the Virgin Islands, and am sailing under the Virgin Islands flag, I definitely consider myself an American. I have been in the U.S. six years now full time, with college in Boston and now working as sailing director at the Chicago Match Race Center. I am definitely pumped about what is going on in the U.S. It is great to see the growth of match racing in the country, in both popularity and skill. But to really expand we need to grow interest among youth sailors. The New Zealand programs get them in their mid-teens, and that is where the U.S. needs to start too. We are definitely making progress, but there is more room to go.

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