by US Sailing
Ed Baird, 49, of St. Petersburg, Florida reached the pinnacle of his long sailing career on July 3 2007 when he held the oldest trophy in sport - The America's Cup - aloft in celebration of winning the 32nd America's Cup as helmsman of the Swiss Team Alinghi.
Ed Baird on the helm of Alinghi - 2007 America’s Cup Day 1
Ed is a lifelong member of US SAILING and has been involved with America's Cup racing since the 1990's. An eight time world champion, he has been a coach, mentor, and fellow competitor at every level of the sport.
In 1995 he was the sparring helmsman for America's Cup winner, Team New Zealand, and in the same year was named Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. He raced in the 1998 Whitbread Round the World Race and is the only American to reach number 1 on the ISAF World Match Racing Rankings.
For the 2003 America's Cup, he was the technical expert on the television commentary team for the host broadcaster, Television New Zealand. Today as the winning Alinghi helmsmen of the 32nd America's Cup during some of the most exciting racing in Cup history, Ed is a true force in this sport.
A Floridian who started his racing career in an Optimist, he moved on to Lasers, 470s, Solings, J24s in much the same way many young sailors get their start. While he has participated in world match racing events and America's Cup level racing as an adult, his early days in smaller boats also led him to a number of coaching and mentor opportunities.
About sailing well, he has provided insight both as a coach, in his television commentary and by example.
Clearly, Ed has gained immeasurable experience sailing with America's Cup teams in some of the most difficult matches ever raced. But, his message to other sailors has always been straightforward.
Ed has written a number of magazine articles about sailing. 'Rule number one is that you've got to be fast to look smart but you can't win every race,' he says. 'Even the most dominant teams don't win all the time. Winning teams spend a lot of time talking about what they'll do if such-and-such happens. Top teams are rarely surprised by a sudden change in circumstance.
If you blow something, take your situation and make more of it than the next competitor. That's part of the challenge of the sport.
Finally, when faced with a frustrating race, I calm myself with this thought: Most of the fun is in the learning. People who enjoy competition the most are learning every day.
The more you learn and improve, the better you feel about yourself. By taking the focus off the goal of winning, the pressure of the race goes away and it's easier to make clear decisions.
Concentrate on setting goals for the day, and get them accomplished.'
Despite the immense pressure of competiting for the most coveted trophy in sport, Ed followed his simple philosophy and still has fun while sailing well.