At age eight, Paul Cayard started sailing on Lake Merrit in Oakland, California after a friend introduced him to the sport. With the assistance of a borrowed El Toro, which was complete with Cox cotton sails, the youngster who had no previous sailing experience, encountered an instant addiction.
Father Pierre, a master woodworker with the S.F. Opera and Ballet Company, believing it was just a phase, labored after work in his garage to build Paul his own El Toro. Hull no 6168, lovingly built in 1968, was became Paul’s road to independence.
“ It was liberating Paul declared for a 2004 article for Sailing Magazine” It was the 1st time I could control my own destiny” Paul , now a member the Lake Merced Sailing Club near the San Francisco Zoo completely immersed himself. “ I thought that maybe for a year , maybe 18 months then it would be ball, maybe” recalls dad, Pierre” We all know, that nothings else has changed in all those years “
On at Lake Merced Circa 1968
Pierre and Frances Cayard with the Dick Marcus Perpetual El Toro Trophy which Paul won in 1972, 1973, & 1974
Shortly thereafter, his family took to sailing, purchasing a Snipe. Pierre and Frances argued too much while sailing, so Paul intervened and made mom his chauffer and sail-mate on the Snipe, and by age 12, Paul and mom (or whoever Paul could rustle up) were competing with the SBRA (Small Boat Racing Association). Competing for the Sears Cup on a whim, Paul did well enough to qualify, where he was introduced to some StFYC members Steve Jepson, Kenny Keefe and Zan Drejes
Paul hooked up with Zan Drejes , and while tooling around the StFYC on a super windy day, he caught the eye of some coaches who invited him to join the Junior team. Paul went on to the red hot Laser’s circa 1974 and then onto the 505’s after meeting Dennis Surtes at a Laser event. Enter Doug Holm, another StFYC member gearing up for the Star Worlds to be held in SF in 1978 and was seeking crew.
Road Trip! The style wagon was no chick magnet!
Paul joined up and during the process of preparing, asked Tom Blackaller if he could teach him how to match race. Tom agreed, so every Wednesday for 8 weeks, Paul and Bill George would single hand a couple Santana 20’s from the Richmond YC to Alameda where Tom’s offices were, and Tom would work with them during his lunch hour. Tom’s tutelage earned Paul A 2nd in the Governors Cup that year. Impressed, Tom asked Paul to join him in Toronto for the 1978 NA’s “The hook being I had to drive his boat to Toronto, Tom knew I could get the boat to Toronto but wasn’t sure how good a crew I would be” reflects Paul. The North Americans were not completed that year, but Paul with Bill Gerard went on to finish 4th in the Star Worlds that year, and 2nd in the 505 Worlds. And still at the tender age of 18, He had caught Tom’s attention.
Paul and Tom
Paul on the Stars:
”The Star is quite a challenging boat with enough adjustability in rig which requires experience and a good feel for making your boat go just a little faster than the other 99 boat at Worlds level. The competition is great, the level of competitor that gravitates to it has always been high, a collecting point of some of the greatest sailors in the world, you just can’t find a class with better completion, the like so f Buddy Melges, Ian Percy, Robert Scheit". On the matter of the recent Olympic decision regarding the Stars, ” This is the irony of the Olympic decision. I guess I’m not sure what the Olympics are supposed to do, with 10 disciplines you should have a good spectrum of the sport, singhanded, dinghy, trapeze, dinghy, keel and multi hull. Ultimately, if you were going to pick one boat to represent the sport, I would argue that it should be the Star”
On the A-Cup Campaign in 1983. The job description was a little more detailed than just tugging on a line as Paul explains” “ Americas Cup teams back then were extremely lean, our shore crew was exactly one person. We did major surgery ourselves to save money. Defender went into the shed twice. Once we cut it literally in ½ and bent it up because of a minimum displacement penalty. The other time it was to replate the whole aft section, the bustle area. The crew had to completely refair and refinish the boat between rounds of races. It involved a lot of long boarding and a substance called Fark Rock. I was the guy in charge of the bottom, the “Bottom Specialist”.
Paul continues, ”We would race a series, get nine days off. Eight of those were spent in the shed with the dust mask on and we didn’t get paid a nickel…but we loved it. We had our tee shirts with the team logo, and our pay was to be on the team and being able to go down to the Candy Store at night and try to fish some chicks out of the bar… that’s how we were remunerated… and the gym was completely optional, you kind of went if you weren’t too hung over.” But there were other sacrifices as well. Paul had fallen for Uki Petterson, daughter of Pelle and they were dating, but girls were not allowed to live in the crew house. “So I had to sell my one possession, my Camaro, in order to have enough money to pay rent, so I could work for the team for free” he laughs.” They were really good salesmen back then.”
The 1983 campaign and secrecy:
The 1983 Americas Cup ushered in an era of secrecy, and shrouding of hulls and most importantly the keels. Australia II had developed something new and most of the other syndicates suspected it was a wing, and even attempted to duplicate it.” We kind of suspected what it was and tired adding wings on our keel for testing. But they were plywood, which created an end plating effect but also surface drag without the benefit of lead” Paul notes “ For it to be effective we would have had to recast the keel” And there just wasn’t enough time. “ Liberty made a great effort to make it a seven race series, but Australia II was in class all her own” He adds.
The team reunited for the 1987 Cup this time sporting two boats, USA 49 with its conventional keel and USA61 with its twin canards and Tee Keel fondly named “ The Geek”. Paul had had been promoted to sailing manger and Tom focuses more on fundraising and being the face of the team. For the development Paul explains, ”We took a Soling and made a nice mock up and sailed her against a conventional Soling, I was on the mock up and Craig Healy on the standard, just to get a feel of how to sail her” When 49 and 61 were completed they had about 1 month of boat on boat testing on SF Bay before shipping her to Freemantle, but they were still learning.
“I can remember the first race down there, we couldn’t hardly sail the thing” Paul chuckles,” literally it would sometimes tack when we didn’t want it to. Using his hands to demonstrate the complexity he continues: There were quite a few controls going on, there was an outer wheel, and inner wheel, something called a collective and a site click. We had a quadrant down below that had a track on it and arms that were coming from each of the rudders would slid on the track, while the quadrant was moving back and forth. Tom was down below trying to get all this stuff lined up and sometimes it would get all crossed up and the boat would just tack with no forewarning.”
Somehow they managed to get it all together and beat Stars and Stripes two out of three in the round robin and ended up with a respectable third in the LV Cup. They were still operating on a modest budget and Paul points out the programs talent and concepts got them pretty far down the track.
An inglorious end for US 49
“ Tom taught me how to race” exclaims Paul I knew how to sail before, but he taught me strategy, for the whole race and by breaking it down. The start, the 1st leg, how to close it out. His mind was that of a strategist and a tactician. He was very sharp, very fast witted and if he had a weakness, it was his attention span was short. He was always onto the next thing (snaps fingers) constantly. Compared to DC who was more measured, more methodical and able to do things at a slower pace, like hours of testing, Tom just wanted to race
Paul was now just 27 and had competed in two Americas Cups, an Olympics campaign and lots of Star sailing under his belt. He was working with Tom at West Coast North Sails Loft in Southern California. When North needed a support member to send to Europe who could speak something other than English, Paul got the call. Back in 84’ Paul was sent to Italy as a rep for a client racing in the Sardinia Cup ” Tom sent me to Italy..No one knew me from a bar of soap. I show up and we win the Sardinia Cup! Gardini and a few others take note, and Raul invites me back the following summer to race on his maxi” recalls Paul. “We did really well, win some races and Raul is getting Rolex’s and was pretty ecstatic. I was there as a service, as there were no professional sailors in those days, but if a customer spent $100K in a season the loft would send someone over as part of the service. I was the only one who spoke French, and Raul spoke no English, but could speak French “
“So when we finish in Freemantle in 87’, Raul said “Come work for me, I want to build a big Maxi and win the world championship” Paul continues. Il Moro di Venezia III is the 1st fractional Maxi ever built, and Paul had essentially launcheds his career as the program manager and skipper. 1988’s Maxi Worlds are a 3 legged event, with stages in St Thomas, Hawaii and San Francisco. “It was a childhood dream for me”, remembers Paul” There were eight 82’Maxi’s on SF Bay, we had 5 races during the Big Boat Series. Kilaloa, Ondine, Boomerang, Matador, all the big names. We took 5 bullets and won the whole thing”
Cayard Sailing website