Unshakeable moments in sailing

Published on April 20th, 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:

Laura Grondin (USA)
President of International Melges 24 Class, 2021 J/70 Worlds bronze medal & top female skipper, Melges 24 North American ranking #2.

Knowing that my mother and my grandmother had sailed and raced, I was very interested in learning and finally started at age 11. A few short years later, I walked onto the Yale sailing team unaware that I was surrounded by future Olympians; had I known, I might not have had the nerve to show up to the meeting advertised on a flyer (this was 1981).

After four short years, mostly crewing, I stepped away from racing for almost 25 years. As my career progressed and my children grew, I had the time and resources to start racing again as a Corinthian at the back of the fleet. When we subsequently started sailing with pros, I improved and became more competitive. My best racing has come when I have believed in myself and my team. While my path has been indirect, the best opportunities have come when I opened a door without knowing what was truly on the other side.
Augie Diaz (USA)
2-time Snipe and 4-time Snipe Masters World Champion, 2016 Star World Champion, 3-times at Pan-Am Games (Silver – 2011).

Not sure I can remember that far back, but it must’ve been when I started sailing Snipes in 1966. I was going up against very good competition and was having relative success, particularly in the lighter wind conditions. At that time I decided to get better in breeze and my crew back then, Mark Albury, and I put together a program to improve in windier conditions and it worked. Then, in 1969 my father crewed for me in a very well attended Snipe Midwinters Championships which we won. I think this was key.

Hold onto your hat:
This has to be when we were hit by lightning at the Snipe North Americans in 1974. After winning the race, we were headed back to the dock in an ensuing storm. It got very dark and very windy and there was lightning! When the lightning hit us there was the blue light and a small explosion at the bottom of the mast where some of the fittings and rigging were literally melted.

Neither my crew nor I were affected (even though some people may argue that I was definitely affected) and I feel very blessed and fortunate to have survived that episode. But, now when there’s lightning I get very uncomfortable and do not want to be out there!

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