Gratitude List 2016

I love the week between Christmas and New Years. We always spend that time in the foothills of the Blue Ridge and bask in the down home peace and quiet of pseudo-rural Virgina. Every December I  gaze out at the rolling hills, and hay bales, the big blue sky (without an ocean in sight!) and ponder the year past and imagine the year ahead. And I’m always compelled to do the same thing…compile my gratitude list for the year.

Credit Art Durant
Credit Art Durand

I do this mostly because I’m sincerely grateful to have the family I have and go on the adventures I go on. But, as I watch our little one is get bigger and bigger, and the news get crazier and crazier, I also believe that helping our little one grow to be a kind, responsible, secure, independent and physically and emotional healthy citizen of the world may be one of the most important things I can do to really make a small ripple of love and hope that make make a real impact in the world.

And I’ve found that cultivating gratitude may be the single most potent defence against despair I know. So I compile this list to remind myself of all the goodness of the past year. And I do it for our little one (I actually email him the link, yes, he has an email address) so he can read what his dad was grateful for back when he was small) so maybe, he might learn to cultivate gratitude for what he has too.

Imagine if we all tried to make a difference in that oh-so-small way! Anyway…enough of my crazy ideas. Now let’s get to the crazy fast sailboats, and the over-the-top luxury travel. And Le Tour! We can’t forget Le tour, and all the other adventures from 2016!

Bermuda

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Bermuda was the first stop on what turned out to be the year of unparalleled luxury travel.

“As a guy who’s been lucky enough to spend more than my fair share of time on exclusive islands around the world, and more specifically, summer getaway destinations in the Northeast—Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, coastal Maine, and the Hamptons,” I wrote for ForbesLife, “a recent trip to Bermuda has rocked my world”

BVI via quick 100-mile downwind passage on a Jeanneau 64 from St Maarten

Jeanneau 64 under sail
Jeanneau 64 under sail

“I wasn’t supposed to be on this trip,” I wrote back in March. “Meetings in Boston. Basement remodel. Bidding war for the house of our dreams. Injured ribcage from crazy trip to Bermuda that I also wasn’t supposed to be on…..Yet here I am. Sitting on a bench at the Bitter End Yacht Club after arriving from St Maarten last night.”

Flying out on a seaplane with this famous Amrica's Cup guy takes the sting out of leaving the BVI (kinda).
Flying out on a seaplane with this famous Amrica’s Cup guy takes the sting out of leaving the BVI (kinda).

And oh yeah, I flew out of Gorda Sound on a seaplane with my man and America’s Cup legend Gary Jobson!

Les Voiles des St. Barth

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“Having just returned to planet Earth after racing aboard a brand-new, 100-foot-long racing yacht at Les Voiles de St. Barth (and swimming, and running, and partying, and lounging by the pool at our beachfront villa), it’s easy to see why some of the biggest and best race boats and crews in the world continue to descend upon this hilly enclave of exclusivity in the French West Indies every April,” was the lead for my piece in ForbesLife.

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Racing on the 100-foot-long Wally Cento Galeteia was a pretty nice way to get around the Island.

Sounds pretty good, right?

America’s Cup + NYC + Star Power + Behind The Music= Game Of Thrones?

SS160507_LVACWSNYD1_IMG_8804“It may have been rainy. And cold. And the combination of ultra-light winds and ripping current may have forced an early stop to the “racing” when the America’s Cup circus decendeded upon NYC,” I wrote in Town and Country back in early May. “In fact, the “real” racing hasn’t even started yet (today was just a “practice” day). But, the stars have come out with a BANG here in the urban America’s Cup theme park that is Tribeca’s Hudson River waterfront. And we’re just getting started.”

And there were lots of celebrities too!

130 Miles Of Awesome: Biking From Belmont To Provincetown In A Day (Redux)

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(And then the biking began in earnest–Ed.)Soooo, my annual, get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-ride-130-miles-on-or-about-my-birthday-to-officially-kick-0ff-summer is almost upon us again. And since I’ve been running way more than riding these days, I’ve warmed up a post from the past to remind me just how awesome it is. Because the truth is, I love the running but, way deep down, I’ve always been a cyclist (among other things).

Sometimes You Simply Need To Go For A 14-Mile-Long, Cape Cod Sunfish Cruise

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I’d actually wanted to sail my mighty Sunfish to Nantucket. The plan was to shadow the FIGAWI fleet on its annual booze-cruise to the cobbled streets of Titans-Of-Finance-Land in said mighty Sunfish. But…a last minute trip to NYC (I ran into this guy on the Brooklyn Bridge on my way to my meeting. Isn’t his hat #thebombdotcom)…

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on top of all the other travelling I’ve been doing, plus just being in full-on hammer down mode for months-on-end simply caught up with me this weekend. And honestly, it was kinda breezy on race day, and I was having a hard time beating upwind to the line in front of the HP breakwater in my mighty sunfish without the cockpit filling up with heavy, into-irons-inducing water.

Smilin.’ Hull Flyin.’ And Buzzing The Tower Like Tom Cruise In Top Gun

So, the title pretty much sums up this story like the 14-Mile Sunfish Cruise sums up last weekends hi-jinx. But the cool thing about buzzing the committee boat on a “hot seat” aboard an M32 during the, I gotta-say, the refreshingly and surprisingly cool and welcoming World Match Racing Tour stop in Newport, is that I’m booked to sail with the pros again today.

Comanche: Here’s What 25 Knots Of Easy, Breezy, Record Breaking Boatspeed Looks Like

Sometimes things just fall into place. Like yesterday’s little pre-Newport Bermuda Racepractice run we did from Newport to Block Island and back on Jim Clark’s 100-foot drag racer Comanche. And all I can say is my little 25-second video clip of Comanche doing 25-knots, in like, 12 knots of breeze, really doesn’t really do this remarkable monohull justice.

Inside Le Tour De France: Le Private Jet

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Le Tour de France is even more magical in person than I imagined it would have been. And that’s coming from a guy who’s expectations were already sky-high before I stepped out on to the tarmac at the historic Le Bourget air field where Charles Lindbergh landed after completing the first Transatlantic flight (New York to Paris) in May of 1927.

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But then again, arriving for the start of a stage of Le Tour de France (ahem…the first professional bike race I’ve ever attended) in a private jet, and then being whisked to the start village in a convoy of official Tour cars is pretty “magical.”

Inside Le Tour De France: Hangin’ With Cav, Kittel, And Peter Sagan

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So, what was the first thing that happened when I got out of the official tour car that pulled in behind the barriers at the stage 5 start village in Limoges? Somebody took my picture. In fact, a bunch of people did. Of course, they were waiting to photograph a real VIP coming to see the start of stage, but, it’s obvious that they shoot first and figure out who they were photographing (and delete!) later.

Inside Le Tour De France: Riding Stage 6

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Riding the last 50 miles of Stage 6 in this year’s Tour “Pro-Am” was simply, surreal. That’s the only way I can explain it. Everything, from the yellow, and oh-so-pro “Springer” label on my sweet, borrowed bike, to the matching, oh-so-French le Coq Sportiv kit, to the two police motorcycle escorts and the two official cars shepherding our little peloton down into the finishing town of  Montabaun was as amazing as you’d think it’d be.

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Going To Windward On A Morris M42 Is Good For The Soul

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Morris Yachts‘ Cuyler Morris and I have been going to windward…for years.

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He and I have sailed more than a few offshore miles together on virtually every new Morris model that’s been launched in the last 15 years. But the crazy thing is, no matter where we are, or what boat we’re on, or where were headed, wind speeds never seem to dip below 18 knots, and the wind direction never seems to waver from ON THE NOSE! I’m not kidding.

London to Monaco: Chapter 1

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It’s late and I’m wicked jet lagged, but I can’t go to bed without at least posting a bit of a ramble on the fantastic, long-awaited, start of this much bally-hooed, 1,000-mile ride from London to Monaco. And as you well know, we started at the Tower of London, where my totally game septuagenarian step-mother-in-law simply said in her wonderfully british and slightly mischievous way, “Oh, yes….You’re riding from a prison to a Palace!”

London Monaco: The Whole Story In Photos

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We have all come back to earth after riding across France for the Blue Marine Federation. But since the ultra-pro Jonathan Bond’s photos from the London Monaco ride tell the story so beautifully here, I’m going to keep the words to a minimum and let Jonathan’s fantastic photos tell the story.

The Magnificent Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo is…Magnificent

Credit Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo
Credit Hotel Metropole Monte Carlo

As one of the lucky ones who gets to travel to some of the world’s most special destinations, I’ve been welcomed at more than my fair share of luxury hotels and resorts. But I never actually contemplated just how important first impressions are until I ambled down the gloriously welcoming driveway of Monaco’s Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo after riding my bicycle all the way to Monaco (nearly 1,000 miles) from London last September.

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Flying Private

A private helicopter ride out of Monaco provides a killer view and legroom too.
A private helicopter ride out of Monaco provides a killer view and legroom too.

The magnificently opulent Principality of Monaco on the French Riviera attracts VIPs from all over the world. They come to gamble in its famous casino. They come to watch Formula 1 cars turn the tiny country’s (only Vatican City is smaller) winding streets into one of the most famous race tracks in the world. And they bring their superyachts to Monaco’s famous harbor to shop, sunbathe, and party.

Credit Winch Design
Credit Winch Design

But here’s the thing about Monaco. The traffic—mostly made up of Bentley MulsannesRolls-Royce Phantoms, all sorts of Ferrari’s, and more than an occasional Bugatti—is usually pretty congested. And it only gets worse when marque events like the Monaco Grand Prix or the Monaco Yacht Show are on.

That’s why you need a helicopter!

What’s It Like To Fly A Sexy, Clearcoated Carbon-Fiber Hull On The 66-Foot-Long, Badass-Fast HH66 “Cruising” Catamaran?

The black bottom paint obscures this hull fly a bit. But as you can see, that's me in my fluro-yelllow jacket shooting the fly from the leward stern.
The black bottom paint obscures this hull fly a bit. But as you can see, that’s me in my fluro-yelllow jacket shooting the fly from the leward stern.

Well, I had to fly about 10,000 miles (over the North Pole no less) to fly-a-hull and find out just how fast, luxurious, and well-built a brand-new HH66 catamaran is but man, I’m so glad I did. And since I have a bunch of stories planned that will be coming out in the coming months about how the HH66 sails, the progress of the first HH55 that’s just about completed, and an in-depth report about how these all-carbon rocket ships are built by the Hudson Yacht Group in Xiamen, China, I can’t give away too much now.

Happy New Year everybody!

And watch this space. 2017 is shaping up to be even cooler!

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4 Comments

  • Bill….you wild and crazy guy!!! Gratitude….what a smart man you are….reminds me that it might be therapeutic for me to do the same…i love that you are exposed to all this “abundance” and yet your remain solid…feet on the ground…i love it!!!

    Be well…and stay somewhat safe…until we meet again…

    Barb

  • Bill – what an amazing adventure you had in 2016; look forward to more happy times in 2017! Happy sails.. Cap’t Susan

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