Waking Up the Minds of American Sailors

Published on June 24th, 2013

Whether the move to multihulls for the America’s Cup proves a success will be determined this summer, but it is certain that the move has succeeded in waking up the minds of American sailors.

One of these converts is John Sangmeister. In 1987, John was turning the handles as part of Dennis Conner’s successful America’s Cup Stars & Stripes team, and is now part of the movement in California toward large cat competition.

John and his friend Jay Steinbeck bought the Morrelli Pro Sail 40 two years ago. Here John shares this transformation:

What was the motivation to get the 40?

Jay and I have been friends for nearly 30 years and we thought this would be a nice diversion from PHRF keel boat racing. Peter Stoneberg in San Francisco kept describing the fun he was having on his Formula 40 “Shadow.” I describe him as the man who ruined my life and I’m forever grateful.

What have been your big lessons with the 40?

JS: Catamarans are fast and fun. It’s proven to be the most enjoyable sailing I’ve had in a decade.

How accepted have your been in monohull events?

JS: We’ve been included in some Distance and Random Leg events. In last year’s Long Beach Race Week, conditions were ideal for our boat (breezy reaching triangles) and we won our class.

What is the state of multihull sailing in your region?

JS: Growing. Bill Gibbs, who is president of the Ocean Racing Catamaran Association, has eight big multihulls coming down from the Northern California for next year’s Long Beach Race Week. If we match that with local boats, that’s 16. With a little promotion we might get double that number.

You have now taken a big step from the 40 to a 72-foot offshore trimaran ‘Tritium Racing’. What prompted this move?

JS: It was just over a year ago, and we were short tacking off the coast of California during a 70 nm distance race. It was a cold evening, the wind had lightened, and our progress was dismal. We needed a bigger boat. Laurent Esquier, a long time friend from Kialoa days, is on the Artemis Racing team, and I enquired about the trimaran they used early on as a test platform. The rest is history.

Was this a long held dream or an opportunity that you grabbed at?

JS: The Transpac Race this July had something to do with it. It’s a wonderful race if you’re fortunate to sail on a fast boat. It’s 2,225 nm of warm breeze and at the finish, you arrive at the world’s most spectacular landfall and they hand you a cold beverage in a Pineapple.

Our target is the current elapsed time record set by Bruno Peyron aboard Commodore Explorer of 5 Days 9 Hours 18 Minutes and 26 Seconds. We’re fortunate to have a great core group of sailors including Gino Morrelli, Ryan Breymaier, Jacques Vincent of L’Hydroptere and Howard Hamlin.

How is your wife dealing with your mid-life crisis?

JS: With infinite patience. Did I mention that we have a Formula 40 for sale? If it doesn’t sell soon, my beautiful wife will shoot me after she kills me.

Photos and updates on Facebook at Tritium Racing

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