Paul Cayard: My Ultimate Sailing moment

Published on October 8th, 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 Paul Cayard provides his…

I have experienced everything sailing has to offer, from the Olympic Games to the America’s Cup, and even family cruising. But for me, the ultimate sailing experience has been the sailing I have done in the Southern Ocean. There, in one of the most isolated places on earth, you have to be one with Mother Nature. If you don’t, you get eaten alive.

The waves you surf are on an uninterrupted journey around the planet. The storms have to be respected. The ice has to be avoided. All the while, you feel the pressure of a competition and the constant desire to ‘cut it close.’ Balancing fear against the desire to win is one of life’s greatest emotions.

My favorite time of day in the Southern Ocean is dawn. After a hairy night on the wheel, just barely keeping control of the boat in 40-plus knots of wind and 30-foot seas, with boat speeds of 30-plus knots, every minute toward daylight is so very welcomed. It is like running the gauntlet. You go from being scared and stressed to gradually realizing, minute by minute, you are going to survive. It is truly ‘seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.’

The two laps of the planet I have done have made me rich… not in money but in life’s experiences. And at the end of the day, it won’t matter how much money you have, but rather what you did with your time on the planet.

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

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