Maryland Dad Scraping Together Velux 5 Oceans Campaign

/SW/ senior editor Stuart Streuli interviews Tim Troy, a Maryland-based businessman struggling to put himself on the starting line of the Velux 5 Oceans race.

September 5, 2006


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Tim Troy’s story isn’t unique. In fact, it seems like it’s impossible to run a singlehanded round-the-world race without one underfunded American sailor with big dreams and even bigger credit card debt scrambling to make the start line. From Tim Kent, Bruce Schwab, and Brad Van Liew back to Mike Plant and beyond, it’s almost like a stock character from some formulaic Hollywood movie. So it was with a certain amount of cynicism that I picked up the phone and dialed Troy’s number last week. I caught him in Boston where he was, surprise, hunting for money. Despite the fact that I’ve heard Troy’s story, or a version of it, a few times before, he quickly won me over with his honesty and his passion. When you take a step back, it’s easy to see why his story, as predictable as it may be, is so engaging. He’s a middle-aged man, a successful businessman with a family, who’s been dreaming for years about racing around the world by himself. It’s a crazy dream, and committing one’s own money to achieving it is ever crazier. But Troy, from Crownsville, Md., has already leapt so many of the hurdles that it’s impossible to discount him as a daydreamer or a crackpot. He’s got a boat and he’s got the experience, he just needs a few more dollars. The problem is, time is tight and if he doesn’t raise the money soon he may not make it to the starting line.So Tim, give us a brief update. Where do you stand?I’m working frantically to get the boat together and still not there as far as funding’s concerned. I’ve paid for this whole campaign out of my own pocket and frankly it’s costing more than I anticipated. So I’m on a big run to rasie $100,000 to get me on the starting line. It’s sickening to be this close and to come up short by $100,000. I would think somebody could take advantage of the fact that I’ve got the boat this far along. If somebody wanted to jump on the boat they could have the whole boat for a local, global, or national marketing campaign.When you announced your bid in February, you said you’d be on the line even if you had to fund it all yourself. Has that changed?Yeah it has, unfortunately. I didn’t think it was going to be as expensive it is.Where have the cost overruns come?It’s just little bits and pieces, the insurance, the IMOCA measurement. I’ve been really screwed around by IMOCA [the Open 60 class association]. Last year before I pulled the boa out of the water and started my refit, I asked them to come over and measure the boat. They said because I had a current certificate that another measurement wasn’t necessary, all I had to do was pay my dues and I’d be set. But after the first of the year they changed the rules and now all of the boats have to be measured. I’ve pretty much been a one-man show, and I worked as quickly as I could to get the boat back together and have someone come over and measure it. Then there was the terrorist activity over in England and that squashed those plans. So the plan now is to bring it to Spain and have it measured there.I don’t recognize your boat, but it seems like it’s fairly modern. Have we seen it under another name?You probably haven’t. The boat was originally built in 1998 by a wealthy Frenchman [Bernard Paoli] who wanted to go out and break a bunch of records. At the time it was built, it was heralded as being cutting edge, it had a canting keel and a canting mast. The guy built the boat and shortly thereafter was killed in an ultralight plane crash. So I bought the boat from his widow. She chartered it to a fellow who attempted to do the Route du Rhum [Loic Pochet in 2002] but had a collision with a ship or something the first or second night out. So it really hasn’t had many miles on it. I bought it in France and sailed it back. It was built by Mag OCEA in France, the same company that built PRB, which won back-to-back Vendee Globe race [in 2001 with Michel Desjoyeaux and in 2005 with Vincent Riou].So how current does that make it?One generation removed. It’s in the same generation as PRB. So this is a boat with some wheels?Oh yeah.How did you get interested in singlehanded ocean racing?Happened with a chance meeting in Rhode Island with Mike Plant, that was a few years back. I got bitten by the bug and I’ve been trying to get it out of my system for a while. Just ask my wife.How long have you been thinking about racing around the world?It’s been a goal now for almost 15 years. What’s kept you onshore?A little bit of everything: sailing time, money, family situation. Speaking of family. The boat’s named after your daughters, correct?Margaret, or Maggie, she’s 21, a senior in college, and Anna 19, she’s a sophomore in college. And I can’t forget my 12-year-old son Michael, the dinghy’s named after him.How much time have you had sailing the boat?I bought the boat and delivered it from France-I took a crewmember with me. Last summer I did a solo sail in the Atlantic out and around Bermuda, then I brought he boat back and have been pretty much working in on it since.What have you done to it?We have torn the thing apart. I pulled the keel, I pulled the rudders, put in new rudder bearings, overhauled the engine. The rig’s been down and completely taken apart.Does it still have the canting rig?They outlawed the canting rigs, so it’s a carbon fiber mast.What’s your plan for the next few weeks?I’m in Boston now doing some publicity stuff, trying to raise some money. This weekend we’re headed to New York. My plan is to leave New York on the ninth and head for Spain. My wife asked me this morning if I was going to go to Spain if I don’t have all the money in place. The answer is I’m not sure.It wouldn’t be the first time that something comes up at the last minute. So I’m going to keep pushing until they say I can’t go. Who’s “they”?The people from Velux 5 Ocean, the race committee.Provided you make it, how do you see the race shaking out? It’s not a deep field, but there’s some talent there.[Bernard] Stamm won the race the last time. Golding probably should’ve won the Vendee if he didn’t have so much trouble at the very end. He’s also the world champion in the IMOCA class. Alex Thomson is well funded with Hugo Boss. My plan is to stay in the hunt.It sounds like you have a design to keep pace with those guys. How will you approach the race?My first priority its to finish the race safely, to bring my boat back in one piece. But I want to stay in the hunt and-and I hate to say this-possibly capitalize on somebody else’s mistakes or misfortune. I think the boat has potential to make a podium finish.Looking at pictures of the boat it seems like the design is pushed to the extreme. It seems wider and shallower than other designs?Upwind is where I’ll be lacking. When this boat was designed, everbody was thinking, “Surfboard, surfboard.” Come to find out there’s a little more upwind work in these races than originally thought. So if I’m going to be at a disadvantage with this boat, that’s where it would be. So I’ll just have to be tougher than everybody else-it ain’t no fun pounding this boat to weather, but you know what they say, generally the skipper will give out before the boat does.Speaking of that, what sort of shape are you in? Have you been spending some time in the gym?Not as much as I should be doing. Traditionally, I do a lot of triathlons. I did the Chesapeake Bay Swim in June. I’m in good physical shape, but the past few weeks and months I haven’t been exercising as much as I should because I’ve been frantically working on the boat. Although, that’s exercise in itself.


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