Sitting down with Terry Hutchinson
Published on May 10th, 2021
American sailor Terry Hutchinson has been a world champion sixteen times, he’s twice been World Sailor of the Year and has competed in five America’s Cup campaigns. Most recently he led the New York Yacht Club’s return to the Cup as the skipper and Executive Director of AC36 Challengers American Magic.
In this edition of Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast, Hutchinson joins the show in Auckland after the culmination of the Prada Cup Challenger Series for a two-part series with double Olympic gold medalist Shirley Robertson.
While Part 2 discusses American Magic’s campaign at AC36, the first part begins with tales of his early career, during which he shares an admission that as a school boy in 1983, he skipped class to go and watch Dennis Connor, then sitting at 3-3 against “Australia II”, ultimately lose the America’s Cup…
“I thought, there’s a big race going on and I need to go and watch this so I asked my teacher if I could go to the bathroom, and I just kept walking and walked down to Marmadukes in Eastport and watched Dennis go from winning that race to not winning.
“After the race was over I walked back into school and low and behold everyone was wondering where I was, my Mom was there wondering ‘what did you do!’, and I was ‘Race 7 of the America’s Cup was going on, I had to go and watch it’!”
It was a determination that would see Hutchinson rise through the ranks of the American sailing world, joining Paul Cayard in 2000 as main trimmer on board America One. The pair discuss Terry’s early Cup exploits, including joining the 2003 Stars and Stripes campaign with Dennis Connor…
“I went to his house for dinner, he cooked this incredible chicken curry, and when I walked in, he’s got this replica of the America’s Cup. To be considered part of his team, was really an unbelievable compliment.”
Other Cup highlights include sailing against Alinghi for Emirates Team New Zealand in 2007, and then campaigning with Artemis in the build up to San Francisco 2013, during which time Hutchinson sailed on the radical new Extreme Sailing series.
Robertson and Hutchinson also discuss the phenomenal success of Quantum Racing, the TP52 sailing series, and his relationship with team owner Doug DeVos.
Inevitably though, much of the chat centers on the 36th America’s Cup, and Hutchinson’s recent campaign with American Magic. He reveals how the team felt about their fellow Challengers heading into the Prada Cup, as they discuss the landscape heading into the start of competition in Auckland, they talk roles onboard AC75 ‘Patriot’ and the thrill of racing sailboats at over 50 miles an hour.
In a pragmatic and candid discussion, Hutchinson then talks through the race against Luna Rossa on January 17th, as he reveals the impact of the team’s capsize on the campaign. He reflects on the race scenario, the conditions, and the decision processes that led to the catastrophic capsize, as he reveals some of the results of the teams in-depth debrief about the incident…:
“In retrospect the thing I regret the most is not chirping up and saying, having the presence of mind to say ‘hey, just protect the asset here’ because we had a big lead. But the previous leg, we had done the exact same maneuver.”
It’s an honest and revealing discussion that takes place at a difficult time for Hutchinson, clearly disappointed at the end result for a team that he feels had a lot more to give at AC36…:
“The hard part is that my measure is the scorecard. When I get on the plane, I definitely know I’m gonna be sad, we’re leaving without what we came for, and at the same time I do take solace in the fact that we conducted ourselves in the manner that not only the Club, but our principals would have expected us to. That has to mean something, but I still use the scorecard as the measure.”
Shirley Robertson OBE made history by becoming the first British woman to win Olympic Gold Medals at two consecutive Olympic Games. Shirley Robertson’s Sailing Podcast, produced and edited by Tim Butt of Vertigo Films, is available to listen on her website or via most popular podcast outlets, including iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast, and aCast.
36th America’s Cup Match Scoreboard (wins-losses)
Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL): 7-3
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA): 3-7
Advancing as the winner of the PRADA Cup, the Italian challenger faced the Kiwi defense in the best of 13 series. After the postponement due to government COVID-19 health regulations, the 36th America’s Cup Match racing schedule had two races per day planned for March 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and each day after that until the first team had won seven races.