Unshakeable moments in sailing

Published on April 25th, 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:


Mark Reynolds (USA)
4-time Olympian (Gold – 2000 & 1992, Silver – 1988), 2-time Star World Champion (1995 & 2000), 7-time Bacardi Cup winner (1984, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997, 1998 & 2002), 1999 Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

Breakthrough:
My first boat was a present on my eighth Christmas. I had not asked Santa for a Sabot and I wasn’t excited about it. I liked bikes, trains, car models, and I had just started baseball, but my parents enrolled me in the San Diego Yacht Club sailing program the next summer.

At the beginning of my second summer program, they had the qualifications for the Nationals. The more boats on the course meant the more who qualified from SDYC, so beginners were sent out as well. When I got home that day my mom asked me about my first race, and I told her my head really hurt. I  explained that I got in irons so many times and the boom kept hitting me in the head.

However, I was very competitive, and as baseball wasn’t working out for me, I quickly figured out that I had a knack for sailing. At that time, you started racing in the ‘B fleet’. After winning two regattas you then moved up to ‘A fleet’. It only took me two regattas.

Hold onto your hat:
I’ve sailed plenty of races in tough conditions, races that Augie Diaz would call ‘those that died were the lucky ones’. Plenty of cold windy survival races in Kiel, San Francisco’s Berkley Circle, Sardinia, Korea, where a broken mast may have cost us the gold, and a quite a few squalls thrown in over the years. But the toughest was the 1995 Star Worlds on the Bay of Biscay in Spain.

The whole regatta was windy with huge waves and by the last race less than half of the boats finished, maybe more like 1/3. One of our closest friends and competitors, whom we had to beat, broke their mast when just behind us on a reach, which never happens.

We tacked around on the last gybe into the leeward mark and sailed up the last beat coming down off waves so hard the windward shrouds would go loose, but we won our first Worlds, something my dad and Dennis Conner had done 24 years earlier.

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