EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW The all-around “Paul Cayard – Thinking” (and no more America’s Cup…).


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We all remember him smiling, mustachioed at the helm of the Moor of Venice. Paul Cayard made Italy dream. Now we find him in Riva del Garda, at 57 and without a mustache, as a tactician aboard a tiny J/70. The J/70 in question is Carlo Alberini’s Calvi Network (who, in the photo above, is to the right of the champion). Cayard replaces the unavailable Branko Brcin in the final leg of the Alcatel J/70 Cup in Riva del Garda (finished third) and at the World Championship in San Francisco (Sept. 24-Oct. 2). We were at Riva and had a well-rounded chat with Paul about the America’s Cup, the Olympics, and the future of sailing. Here is what he told us.

14289836_10155313300423636_2013438515046603691_oOUR INTERVIEW WITH PAUL CAYARD
Before receiving this “call,” did you know Carlo Alberini and his winning team?
I met Carlo in 2004, at the Farr 40 World Championships in San Francisco: but only as an opponent, so I didn’t have a chance to go deeper….”

You are 57 years old…do you count on still getting by with an athletic boat like the J/70?
“Especially when it is windy, the J/70 is very challenging, especially for those in the bow, but I like it. I like the idea of being competitive, even on a physical level (before I got on the water I had to revise my clothing so that I was more agile and flexible): more than what is required of a 57-year-old. How nice to be younger than my age, sportingly speaking.”

Will you be doing specific training in preparation for the World Cup in San Francisco?
“I will keep in shape as much as possible. We will have three days of training, one day off, and then five days of racing (and it will probably be three races a day). And after the regattas, there will be one more hour of sailing to get to the Yacht Club docks. Since this will be a tiring Championship, the key to everything will be played out in the last two days of racing, where those who arrive in good physical condition will have a better chance.”

What do you think of the “new” America’s Cup? Do you like the turn it’s taking?
“I think the new America’s Cup is in a testing period. Faster boats to take a wider audience. For us sailors, this format lacks some history, some maneuvering: but you know, the America’s Cup is a very commercial event. It will be up to the organizers, after this edition, to pull the sums to see if, on a marketing level, the Cup structured in this way will have worked or not.”

14257457_10155306109368636_2732916087523556550_oWhat is Paul Cayard’s sailor’s dream in the drawer?
“My dream is to remain competitive, despite my advancing age. I am also very happy to challenge myself on the TP52s (with Richard Cohen’s Phoenix, ed., he is competing in the Worlds in Menorca), the most cutting-edge fleet in the world, which in my opinion has taken a bit of a back seat, in terms of crew racing, to the very America’s Cup (now a challenge of speed and evolution of hydro and aerodynamics).”

In Italy, Paul Cayard’s name is linked in the collective imagination to sailing (aided by your fortunate experience aboard the Moro di Venezia in 1992). What is the fondest memory of your Italian period?
“I have been asked this question hundreds of times. And I always end up answering the same way: the memory I have of the Moro period is the most beautiful. I am very lucky, it is a sports and human memory that very few people are lucky to have: the cultutra that was behind the Moro, the eyes of Italy on us, the character of Raul Gardini. A whole set of things that I cannot forget.”

And your fondest memory ever?
“Probably winning the Star World Championship (in 1988 in Buenos Aires, ed.).”

The Journal of Sailing has elected the greatest sailor/mariner of the modern era, who do you think?
“Hard not to pick Russell Coutts at this time. He’s won the America’s Cup five times and the gold medal at the Olympics-he’s only missing the round-the-world race…. Torben Grael is also great, he managed to win five medals, the Louis Vuitton and the Volvo Ocean Race. And let’s not forget Ben Ainslie, who in addition to winning five Olympic medals won the America’s Cup by coming aboard Oracle.”

Your biggest regret, looking back?
“Someone once told me that ‘regret is the poison of life.’ To say that my regret is that I didn’t win the America’s Cup would be to say that I am not happy with all the good that has come to me from that world. I have no regrets.”

What do you think you will be doing 20 years from now?
“I will always be around regattas. I don’t believe in the America’s Cup. If my body holds up, I’d like to do a World Tour again. My other passion is planes; I think I would continue to fly as I am already doing. I want life to drive my work, and not vice versa. Life is only one, there are too many things to see. By the way, I hadn’t been to Riva del Garda since 1989. Now that was a mistake!”

The boat you have enjoyed the most in your career?
“The Star.

The place where you would like to go sailing “all your life”?

The sailor you sailed with and got along best?
“My son.”

So your children are sailing….

Will the future of sailing be foils and flying boats?
“I believe that flying and traditional sailing will continue to coexist, without eliminating each other. There will be room for all types of sailing: for foiling boats, for keelboats and for dinghies.”

Do you happen to go on a cruise with your family? If yes, what are your favorite places and your ideal cruising boat?
“Yes, I often go to the Caribbean. We also rent a four-cabin catamaran with friends, we almost always go true November. Cruising is the other side I love about sailing. This year we will leave from St. Lucia and go down to the Grenadines-incredible places to see, especially by boat.”

Italy returned home from the Olympics without a medal; the U.S. only reaped a bronze. What did not work in your opinion?
“You have to be able to create a fertile environment on which talent can ‘grow’. The British figured this out after coming back empty-handed from the 1984 Olympics and devised a structure that starts from the bottom, with lots of kids already racing and being looked after at age 10. Among them, talents sooner or later come out and are properly trained: this is the case with Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy, ian Walker, Giles Scott. In the U.S.-I do not speak for Italy-we have remained fossilized in the belief that talent manifests itself. Instead, you have to know how to create.”

cayard-1024x935WHO IS PAUL CAYARD

Sailing’s most famous (and beloved for his likability) “mustache” made Italy dream in 1992 when he took Raul Gardini’s Moro di Venezia to the America’s Cup final against the Americans in San Diego by winning the Louis Vuitton Cup. Born in San Francisco in 1959, an absolute star player (he won the World Cup in ’88 along with Steve Erickson), he triumphed with the Italian team at the ’95 Admiral’s Cup and the ’97 Whitbread (now known as the Volvo Ocean Race, the round-the-world race in stages) at the helm of Sweden’s EF Language.

He is always hanging out on the race courses, constantly challenging himself on the Star and has been is the head of the Swedish Artemis team as part of the 34th America’s Cup.



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