The Wocketeer had the opportunity to sail yesterday with one of his heroes. And for a good cause, too! My friend and supporter Grant Miller (and family) had arranged to take a great group of Sea Scouts out on the Bay, with none other than America’s Cup heroine, Dawn Riley. This sounded like such a great idea, that yours truly tagged along.
In case you had your head in the sand the last year, Dawn’s “America True” coed team had a terrific showing in the last America’s Cup challenger series. Against all odds, they routinely defeated the likes of Team Dennis Conner and fought all the way to the semifinals. Dawn has established herself as a tremendous organizer and leader and produced a team with an inclusive spirit that many fans identified with, myself included.
We sailed aboard Grant’s beautiful Little Harbor 47 from the America True headquarters in San Francisco. Dawn is an ex-Sea Scout herself, and it was great to see her interact with such a great group of young mariners. She is obviously a natural leader and was very comfortable with them. I had a great time myself, as a few of the gang loved hearing about my latest ocean adventure aboard “Rage.” We also brought along Campbell Rivers, who at only 16 raced with me on the “Rage” trip. He did a great job giving the kids pointers on sail trim, etc. I think it was good for the Scouts to meet someone their own age with so much experience!
I have to say that I pick my heroes carefully. I am drawn to those who have to work hard against all odds to succeed or win. Cycling greats Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond are possibly my greatest inspirations. Then of course it is the sailing greats like Slocum, Chichester, Motissier, and more recently, Pettengill, Goss, Autissier, and Soldini. There are many great and talented America’s Cup sailors, but I find Dawn an inspiration, knowing the dogged determination it has taken for her to succeed against an established old boys network. It was a great honor to go for a spin on the bay with her. There was a real thrill for both of us in seeing the nervous smile of a young sailor as they get to helm a large sailboat for the first time. I wasn’t a Sea Scout when I was young, but it is a wonderful organization.
When our Open 60 finally hits the water, one of my goals will be to provide the opportunity for some Sea Scouts to feel the incredible thrill of high-speed ocean sailing aboard such a fast boat.
If they get half as big a kick as I did from that first big surf down a wave, they’ll be hooked!