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Q&A with SF-Born America's Cup Racer Paul Cayard

Originally published in the My SF series on Huffington Post SF

Professional sailor and yachtsman Paul Cayard is the CEO of Alameda-based Artemis Racing, the team currently representing Sweden in the America's Cup. Over his career, Cayard has won seven world championships and has competed in the Olympics twice. In 2002, he was inducted into the Sailing World Hall of Fame. Though Artemis is sailing for another country, Cayard was born and raised on San Francisco waters.

You're from the San Francisco. Tell me about growing up sailing in the Bay Area. I grew up on Twin Peaks and got into sailing by total happenstance. When I was in elementary school, my friend's family sailed a little bit and I got interested. My dad started taking me out to Lake Merritt in Oakland and we'd borrow boats from the rec center there. Eventually my dad built me a boat in our garage.

And how did that lead to a professional career in sailing, the Olympics, seven world championships… When I was young there was no such thing as professional sailing; we all just did it for fun. The year I graduated from San Francisco State I went to Rhode Island and volunteered for the America's Cup. We sailed all day and worked on the boat all night and didn't get paid a nickel. Then in 1992 the America's Cup started allowing sponsorship and it was a whole new ballgame.

Do you think growing up in San Francisco helped you as a sailor?
Growing up here made me get used to very high winds and low temperatures. People who survive that have a certain skill set. A lot of very good sailors get in trouble when they get in conditions like the San Francisco Bay. I know that growing up on that, I can sail anywhere in the world.

You're an American from the hometown and your team is racing for Sweden. How does that work? It's funny, even though we're racing for Sweden, we have more Americans than any other team. The Skipper for Oracle [the team representing the United States] is from New Zealand. Countries hire racers just like any other sport: Michael Schumacher was a German who raced Ferraris; Major League Baseball hires guys from all over the world.

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