PRO SAILING: Good to have a back-up plan

Published on June 10th, 2013

Name other sports – besides sailing – where amateurs and professionals compete together? Our list includes running and biking, but in those two examples you likely only see the pros at the start. So it seems that sailing is quite rare in this aspect.

The professional aspect of sailing has grown beyond industry professionals, with now countless ‘independent contractors’ selling their skills to boat owners eager to compete at a higher level. For the 20+ crowd, it might seem like a dream come true, but as professional sailor Peter Evans reminds, it’s good to have a back-up plan.

Evans – now 52 years – would eventually race in six America’s Cup campaigns – three for New Zealand, one for Japan and two for Switzerland; three Olympics (1984, 1988, and 1996), and numerous other international sailing events in more than 20 countries around the world.

While training for the Cup challenge in San Diego, he also met his wife Jackie. They wed in 1994, now have two daughters ages 8 and 13, and remain in Coronado, CA where the Kiwi team had been based during their campaign.

Evans is racing less, but still participates in a few regattas a year. What he relishes most is the time he spends with wife and daughters. With professional sailing, “there is so much travel and so much time spent away from home,” he said

When the day comes that he does retire he’ll do so with few regrets. “It’s been fantastic for me,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to live in New Zealand, Europe, Japan and the Middle East, sailing with some of the best sailors in the world.”

Looking back he knows that he’ll miss the camaraderie of sailing and the pleasure of “working with a real purpose.” It’s one he would recommend with the proviso that they get a “good education just to keep as many doors as possible open.”

“Like any professional sport only a very few get to the top level where there is a career in it,” he said. For that “you need to be every passionate about it, work really hard at it and have a dose of good luck to get the right opportunities.”

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