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Posted by on Jun 16, 2013 in Boating Lifestyle, Sailboat Racing, UK, US, Video | 1 comment

Digital Vagabond: Desperate Measures

Volvo Ocean Race or destination unknown? From the snows of Vermont to spring and summer on the Med, he's pursuing high-tech sailboats with camera in hand.

The odometer read 234,000 miles.  The car’s control arms were shot, and the title had lapsed. Each attempt at an emissions test had left a mechanic laughing in my face.  No matter, I was off to Vermont.

The odometer, at 24,450 miles and climbing.

The odometer, at 234,000-plus miles and climbing.

I’d told my parents my plan to find a marketing job at a ski resort and spend every night studying for law school.  The seeds of a steady future to pay off a second mountain of college debt.

But that wasn’t my dream. With hardly any professional experience, I’d determined to work as a Media Crew Member to sail in the next Volvo Ocean Race. I needed to get the attention of an office located in Alicante, Spain, half a world away. The next edition of the race would start in less than two years.

On Halloween night, I’d cornered PUMA skipper, Ken Read, in the back of the Mystic Seaport chapel after a race presentation. He’d graciously traded me his business card for an exit path.  And just after Thanksgiving, he returned a call and offered an email contact in VOR HQ.

Volvo Ocean Race quote

It’s all about the first step.

In three months, I never touched one of the LSAT books. Instead, I agonized over the MCM application. When VOR announced the open casting call for Onboard Reporters I decided I had to do something different.  And 70 hours of editing later, I’d finished, for better or worse, a video that was now uploaded to YouTube with zero views, addressed to my mystery man in Alicante.

Sitting alone in the cabin in Vermont, I slipped the Puma card from my wallet and looked at the email address scrawled across the back.  I pictured its recipient as you imagine any stranger tasked with sifting through piles of applications, morning after morning.  Face in palm.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.

My email read:

My dream obsession is to work for The Volvo Ocean Race.  I’ll never forget watching you, Ken and the crew of Il Mostro sail from Newport for Bermuda alongside Speedboat in June 2008…

And I could just see his response. Delete.

So when I hit send, the email read:

Before you consider checking out my application package, or even finishing this letter, please watch a short video introduction that I made for you.

I had spent five months obsessing over one email and a video.  The response came in two days: Let’s talk.

On March 1st –my birthday- I clocked out for two hours, drove home in two feet of snow, and sat in front of Skype until the computer started ringing.

The chat lasted five minutes.  There was no job offer or any discussion of sailing as an Onboard Reporter.  And for the next month I spent every moment waiting to hear more about one key sentence.

I’d like to bring you out here for one month as a guest of our TV/Communications team,” he’d said.  “if it makes sense.”

Then the plane tickets arrived. I packed the wagon and headed south.

52 Super Series in Barcelona

Sunset, Barcelona: The racing fleet gathers for the first event of the 52 Super Series.

I’ve been told that 90 percent of life is showing up.  And my month in Alicante was over in a heartbeat.  So the day before I was supposed to leave Europe, I pushed my return ticket to the limit of my visa.  I found a bar with wifi, set up shop, and fired out a few pitches to sailing magazines and websites that read:

“Hi. I’m Sam.  I’m here.”

And I created this blog to keep track of whatever happens next.

Sailing photo of Quantum Racing at Conde de Godo Trophy

Shooting the Conde de Godo Trophy winner, Quantum Racing, and the rest of the 52 Super Series fleet.

 

1 Comment

  1. Just watched your introduction video, great work.
    I wish you all the best getting the job, I’m sure you will be able to provide those of us ashore with a great story.
    Cheers, Dave.