This championship, he says, was one of the most emotional moments of his life, one that would propel him into the ranks of professional designers. He tells the story in vivid detail: In the regatta’s final and decisive race, he and his Canadian teammates face a New Zealand squad whose boats are better in strong winds. The Canadians struggle on the windward legs, barely hanging on against the faster Kiwi boats. By the final downwind leg to the finish, the race committee is recording puffs up to 30 knots, and through attrition, each team is down to two boats. Kirby and crew, Harry Jemmett, lower their mainsail so only about 12 feet remain aloft. Jemmett sits to leeward, desperately trying to steady the leech while Kirby, on the other side, wings the jib. Because of a heavy mist, he’s unsure where the other Canadian boat is. Kirby finishes first, followed by one of the Kiwis, while the second New Zealand boat, sailing with a cracked mast, is working its way downwind with only a spinnaker.