Since many of you have heard the incredibly sad news about Peter McGowan’s health. And since many of you have also reached out to see what you can do to help his family and show Peter how much we love him, I thought maybe we could build a kick-ass tribute and share stories and photos that might help him (and his family and us too) celebrate his spirit.
Here’s a story from Kristin Browne about Peter “The Disrupter” and his famed “Chubby.”
I have so many memories to share – where to start. One good one is a long time ago riding around off Newport In the Chubby – Peter was dying to show off the speed of course and specifically how tight and fat he could rip some donuts (bagels!) with his oversized Merc or whatever he had. He Asked me 5 times if I was holding on tight to the custom tower he had for shooting. It had some gnarly non skid on it and was another thing he was proud of on the boat. I assured him I had my best Kung fu grip on the tower and. He let her rip into a few big Hugh speed turns That no one could Have held on tight enough for. I was completely vertical to the water and my hands were bleeding from holding that tower so tight. Flesh was nearly ripped off my hands the turn was so off the hook. It was frightening and hysterical. Especially to him. (The hysterical part).
He likely followed that escapade by swinging by the next night exactly at dinner time, asking with his twinkling eyes and wide smile, “what’s for suppa?” Of course we always fed him.
It was a fun time to know and hang with Peter. When the yachting photo scene in Newport was a little thinner and Peter was as cutting edge and ballsy as you could be. He loved to get in the way to get the shot and as he recently told me when trying get a controversial pic of some secret stuff (of the NYYC Mule before anyone else had photos of it pictured above), it’s “hard work being a disrupter…!”
He pushed his fine talent to the limit, as well as his own skills and his body and mind and even his friends. But peter your heart luckily is as big as your smile and your ego so you remain a lovable friend who we will dearly miss.
I’m so glad I got be be a disrupter with you.
Here’s a vintage Peter story from the always smiling, New York Times sailing writer Chris Museler.
Here’s a standard Peter McGowan assignment…..
Cover a mini trimaran (WETA) one design regatta in Duck, NC in the fall. For Sailing World. Dave Reed says “make something of it.” Hurricane sitting offshore the whole event. Peter grumbling about the weather and how he’d rather be out there in the surf and not on the sound. He’s figity, racing is cancelled, so we go on a mission, standard, grab beers, drive south forever to Hatteras, get some knowledge from Nuzzo at REAL kiteboarding (Peter was an early adapter with him and was now in the first wave of foil boarding)
Bob Gleason is with us and thinks a shot at kiting today is nuts. So we drop him off, get the kit, and head south again.
Peter’s always looking to see if it’s possible and he leans on his friends for affirmation, no matter how sketchy the plan seems. “C’mon. It looks rideable doesn’t it? What’s the worst that happens? I ditch my stuff and swim in. How big does that look to you? Not too bad, right? It looks a little knarly, I probably shouldn’t go. What do you think? Look at that current! Maybe I’ll just go out one set and come back.”
He sounded like Porky Pig.
That whole conversation was just Peter. He didn’t give me a moment to respond. It’s blowing upper 20s low 30s, gusts higher. No way both of us were going out. That was stupid.
I truly had that feeling that I was an accomplice to the “end of Pete!” But he was so psyched. So I shrugged and said don’t go past the second set, turn and burn if you don’t think you can get over the first, and I’ll catch you down the beach.
He went. Strapless surfboard. Friggin bold. We were both lifted as I hung up his harness, sand and sea foam were ripping and splattering across us. He Faced two monsters, over the first then I didn’t see him for 10 seconds, eternity, he pops out heading back but 100 yards downwind, made some sweet long turns as he played in the whitewater.
I was full tilt down the beach cursing to myself asking why I agreed to be his cady.
300 yards later, yes 300. I caught up with him and he was as wide eyed as I’d ever seen him. ”It’s bigger than it looks man!” But I know his heart rate was low. We ditched his kite in the dunes and I gathered. The beers exploded after I took them out of my jacket. As we walked back along the dunes getting pelted by sand and rain, Pete days, “I hope racing is cancelled tomorrow.”
I’ll post the killer Sailing World spread from that event when Dave sends it to me.
What a stoke master You are Peter McGowan! Trying to keep up with you, and you always bringing us into the fold. Always making us feel a bit uneasy (like you’re doing now) but that we know whatever happens it’s going to be quite an experience.
And since we’ve been partners in crime on SAIL magazine stories since 1996, I’ve been going back into the vault to try to find some of the killer spreads he’s done over the years.
As any lifestyle magazine writer will tell you, a story is only as good as the art. And my stories were always better when Peter shot the photos–like this for this feature from 2002 when I tagged along with a Coast Guard Helicopter rescue team to see what it’s like to be rescued, (he’s shooting the mission from that sailboat in the foreground).
But maybe my favorite Peter story is also the most recent when he came to shoot drone footage of our little preppie Sunfish fleet in Hyannisport last summer. He was late…as usual. And he kinda complained about being hungry and needing food “to create” as usual! But he did it all with his familliar cheshire cat smile. And he not only spent all day shooting (for free, actually I think I gave him a muffin) but he was so sweet and tender and cool with our 6-year-old drone-obsessed son Sam, that both my wife and I were warmed by Peter’s big heart…underneath his cool-guy persona!
I felt kinda special that day. Like I was lucky to know the world-famous Peter McGowan and knowing him made me kinda famous too.
And here’s the link to the caringbridge site “Team Peter” has set up when you can get much more info and share stories too. https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/teamsweetpete…
And please leave comments and photos below too. Or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your stories and photos and I’ll add them all here too.
Every day with you was a leap of faith and our guts always told us to not trust that smile, that we’d get lost, we’d be home late and piss off our partners, we’d lose all our kit, we’d drown!
But our hearts always gave in and we went for it. With you we are always in it together. All in. Thank you brother, for all the stoke and friendship and for inspiring everyone you meet.