Unshakeable moments in sailing

Published on April 18th, 2022

Luissa Smith, PR Director for the 2022 Bacardi Cup invitational Regatta, quizzed well-known sailing personalities about unshakeable moments that propelled them forward and incidents that still keep them up at night:


Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL)
4-time Olympian (Gold – 1996, Bronze – 2004), 2-time Star World Champion (2019, 2008), 2- time Finn World Champion (2000, 1998), 1999 Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

Breakthrough:
It was in 1992, when I was 17 years old. I came to try the Finn for the first time at the Polish Nationals, just after the Barcelona Olympics. There were big guns and experienced sailors on the starting line. Everyone knew nobody could beat them. But I didn’t know that. I didn’t think about it. I just sailed beautiful races and won three of them. Surprisingly, I finished second overall. It was just the beginning.

Hold onto your hat:
I was in Sydney Harbor in 1999. A thunderstorm caught us on the way back to the marina, with lighting striking all around. One hit the boat in front of me, a 49er. The coaches came to rescue him right in front of me and the crew survived. It was tough, and dangerous on that day.
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Eric Doyle (USA)
1991 Star World Champion, 2019 Bacardi Cup winner, America’s Cup (2000, 2003, 2007).

Breakthrough:
One of the big influencing moments was when I first saw a Star boat. They seemed so elegant and fast and then when I started to see the names of the legends of our sport that all raced Stars – well, I was hooked.

Stars became my life and Vince Brun asked me to come to San Diego to work and sail with him, and that was a defining moment as well. Then when Dennis Conner asked me to join his America’s Cup program, I figured that I was on a pretty good career path! I learned so much from those two, I would never be where I am today without them.

Hold onto your hat:
Luckily scary moments have been few and far between for me. We broke a mast on a big boat 100 miles offshore one time but the crew was so awesome that it turned out to be just a big inconvenience. Recently I have started sailing ice boats and the hair moments seem to come all the time, especially at the leeward mark!

One thing I never realized is that if you turn the steering skate too much it just starts to skid. If you don’t quickly correct, all 3 skates start to skid and you are going about 40 miles an hour completely out of control. When this happened to me, the boat just rounded up and I plowed right over the leeward mark, ripped the anchor out of the ice and got the mark trapped under my leeward skate! Luckily it was a practice day and not too many people saw me destroy the mark. Big lesson learned, trying to not do that again!

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