2007 Swan American Regatta Winners

/SW/'s senior editor Stuart Streuli catches up with two winning helmsmen from the 2007 Swan American Regatta: /Moneypenny/'s Jim Swartz and /Crescendo/'s Nathan Wilmot. /First Beat/, July 25, 2007 /SW eNewsletter/

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(left to right) Nathan Wilmot and Martin Jacobson of the Swan 44 Mk II Crescendo and Jim Swartz of the Swan 601 Moneypenny, the winners in Class C and Class A of the 2007 Swan American Regatta.Nautor's Swan/daniel Forster

While all the boats at the 2007 Swan American Regatta shared some common attributes-- mainly they're all sturdy, and aesthetically pleasing craft-- the teams and sailors proved to be a pretty diverse crowd. There were rock stars aplenty on the Class A boats like Moneypenny, Pioneer Investments by Courdileone, and Strabo, while Classes C and D were dominated by family-oriented grass roots programs, some sailing boats that were older than some of the people on board. After the regatta we caught up with two of the winning helmsman. Jim Swartz has actively sailed his Swan 601 Moneypenny in Europe and North American for the past two years. The SAR was his final big regatta in the boat, though he did officially say goodbye the day after the event in a race around Martha's Vineyard. He's moving up, in terms of size and speed, if not tonnage, to a Storm Trysail Transpac 65. The second sailor we spoke with was 3-time 470 World Champion Nathan Wilmot, who drove Martin Jacobson's Swan 44 Mk II Crescendo to a nearly perfect scoreline-they threw out a second and kept all firsts-in Class C.Sailing World: Jim, tell us a little about your new boat?Jim Swartz: It's a STP 65, there are three under construction, a whole bunch of other people interested in it. We're trying to get a new box-rule going. I love the one-design/box rule racing.SW: When do you expect to be sailing that?JS: We hope to have it ready for Bermuda in 2008. It's under construction now; a Reichel/Pugh design being built at McConaghy. It'll be ready in March.SW: You got into the 601 class with some hopes of doing one-design racing. It didn't quite get as big as you hoped. The STP 65 seems to be facing a similar dilemma?JS: It's a different sailing experience. I loved the Swan racing. I wish the 601 had developed. But I think there's still potential for it. There will be another generation of owners who come in now and hopefully take it to a new level and get some more people into it.SW: Will you do a similar schedule of training in a smaller boat, much as you did with the Mumm 30 before getting into the Swan?JS: We just placed an order for a new Melges 32 and we're going to go sailing on it this winter and spring, learn how to do wide-angle sailing.SW: What name do you have planned for Melges?JS: It's going to be Q again. We sold the Mumm 30, so this will be the new Q.SW: And what about the STP 65?JS: It's going to be called Moneypenny. We're going to keep the name.SW: Initially you committed to a year-long campaign with Moneypenny. You've exceeded that by nearly a year, and now you're looking at a new boat. What is it about the sport that you find so intriguing?JS: I love the people in it; I love the people in the sport. We have a core team, but we've had a number of guys come into the program and they're all just terrific guys. The competitors are terrific; it's just a wonderful collection of people. And I like the challenge of it. Every day's new, every day's different, a lot going on. It's really something you can immerse yourself into or not. And it's something that hard work pays and attention to detail pays, which is something I enjoy.SW: What's your learning curve been like as a driver? Where do you stand now?JS: I'll let the guys comment on that. But I'm very pleased with it. Certainly relative to where I was two years ago in terms of how much help I really need, that's gone down significantly. Although I still get myself into trouble and they have to bail me out. There are still a lot of tactical situations where I need a lot of help.SW: The STP 65, is that mainly a distance-racing boat?JS: It's designed to be a TP 52 on steroids, but capable of true offshore racing. It'll be a well-constructed, sea-worthy offshore racer. So we want to do a combination of distance and offshore and coastal racing and buoy racing. SW: Any plans for any significant ocean passages?JS: I think we're going to do Bermuda in '08, Malta in the fall of '08 again, maybe Transpacific in '09. I don't know if I'm working myself up to Sydney Hobart or not, we'll see. I want to do Fastnet. There are still some boxes to tick and we want to go back to Europe for a fall campaign, we really love sailing there.SW: Nathan, what brings you to Newport? Don't you do enough sailing in the 470?Nathan Wilmot: I fit it in well with flying out of Portugal [from the ISAF World Sailing Championships] just came straight in for the trip. Dad said, "Ah come and do the regatta. You may as well." Round-the-world ticket, flew in and thought it would be great fun.SW: With three world championships, the only thing missing is an Olympic medal. Where does your pursuit of that stand?NW: Well I fly to Hawaii on Sunday, then go home to Australia for four days. Enough time just to get a Chinese Visa so I can go and train there for the Pre-Olympics. So it's all now just getting down to losing the weight and getting ready for China again.SW: You're a pretty tall guy. Losing the weight can't be easy?NW: Tallest helm in the world. I think I'm the only helm over 6 feet. It's not fun not eating. But this is my 10th year in 470s, so I'm used to it.SW: Will this be your first Olympics?NW: No, we did Athens, we were world champions and ranked No. 1 going into Athens but just had a bad regatta. Hopefully going to make up for it at this regatta.SW: A little bit of redemption?NW: There's a lot.SW: Have you been to Qingdao?NW: YesSW: How fair of a regatta are we likely to get for the 2008 Olympics?NW: If there's a typhoon it'll be awesome. If there's not, we're looking at light, shifty, a lot of tide racing. At the end of the day, the best guys should win, the best guys should know how to do it the best. It should be reasonably fair, but I'm hoping for a typhoon at the moment.SW: Crescendo has quite a track record at these Swan events. That's got to put some pressure on you?NW: I've got Dad telling me where to go, so I just yell back at him. We had one second this regatta and I've blamed him, and everyone else blamed him. So it's all worked out alright for me. Last time I did a full regatta with Crescendo was the Worlds in 2002 and we won our division there. It's been a pretty good boat to sail on and I enjoyed doing this regatta and it was good to come away with nothing but first.SW: Your brother Jeremy Wilmot is the skipper of the Morning Light team racing in the Transpac. That makes it a big sailing week for the Wilmot family.NW: We'd wake up in the morning, get on the computer and quick see how he was going. Then go down to racing. Every time we got home we'd check out how he's going as well. We're all pretty excited about what he's doing with Morning Light. Hopefully we fly there and get to meet him on the dock; hopefully he makes it there soon so we can meet him when he gets in.SW: What do you think it's like for him to be the skipper of that boat?NW: It's unreal. It's a great thing for him. He started it off getting into the final 30, we thought that's awesome for an Australian. Then got into the final 15, "Oh, I'm a watch captain." Then all of a sudden, "I'm skippering the boat." We're so proud of him. It's just unreal for him. I think it's going to be the experience of a lifetime. Hopefully he can grow from it.SW: What about your career in the 470? Is the Olympic gold medal the only thing left?NW: The Olympic gold medal, yup, I've got to get one of those. After watching Kevin Burnham and Tom King in Sydney, the extreme emotion that they get when they win it. I've just got to experience that. So that's the goal.SW: How do you manage that level of pressure?NW: It's something I'm getting used to. It's different. Winning the worlds, we're now pretty confident we can beat anyone in any conditions at a world championship. Hopefully we just keep building and we get to the stage where at the Olympics we're just that confident and that set up that we know we can win. We know what mistakes we made last time, we've learned from them, so we just want to keep going and build from our experience.