the AC From the Outside
Cayard (right) calls tactics for John Kilroy
(left) on Samba Pa Ti at Key West. Photo by
Louis Vuitton Cup challenger trials were over and
his employer, Oracle BMW, was eliminated, but the
sun was rising
bright and clear for Paul Cayard half a world away.
the dazzling dawn of Key West he said, "Once
you're up and out, you're way ahead of the world"---a
comment reminiscent of his eloquent e-mails from
the Whitbread Round the World Race a few years ago.
was at Terra Nova Trading Key West 2003 to call
tactics on John Kilroy's Samba Pa Ti, which finished
second to another California boat, Crocodile Rock,
in the tough Farr 40 class. But his mind was sometimes
"This is my anniversary," he noted. "Twenty
years ago I was the jib trimmer with Tom Blackaller
on a boat called Defender."
hadn't missed an America's Cup since until Oracle
boss Larry Ellison sent him into highly paid limbo
late in 2001 for reasons still unexplained.
for the first time feeling free to talk, Cayard
said, "There has been no explanation. It's
left to supposition. It's better for me not to comment
because everybody else pretty much figured it out."
general consensus: Ellison's ego couldn't co-exist
with Cayard's charisma.
have to go back even farther than that," Cayard
said. "Why did he hire me?"
because Cayard came with his AmericaOne assets from
2000, but there was more to it than that.
of the original sale of the boats included my services
to consult for him and to hire people," Cayard
said. "I did a lot of that in the early days,
to convince a lot of the AmericaOne people to continue.
But that termed out, and then he---they---offered
me a new contract and I re-signed. I'm sure, for
the amount of money I was getting paid, he knew
full well I was re-hired."
Ellison could then freeze him in exile and keep
him from going to a rival team? We may never know.
But while the action went on Down Under, Cayard
became the highest-paid Star sailor ever. He finished
fourth in the Worlds at Marina del Rey last summer.
largest upside, though, was "spending time
with the family, which was huge."
Icka and their kids Danny, 14, and Allie, 12, he
became a full-time husband and father.
whole lives I've been involved in a campaign of
one kind or another and been putting in a lot of
hours, with probably half of that time away from
them. I can really notice the difference in this
last year and a half in our relationships, and I
enjoy it. Having a family is a project that requires
time just like any other project, work or otherwise.
downside is, from a career standpoint, I didn't
participate in this America's Cup, and that would
have been a real shame if they had won. They got
pretty close, so the question is, could I have helped
them make a difference? I'd like to think I could
I told Larry Ellison way back, when he bought the
boats from me back in 2000---which was the only
time I ever talked to him---he said, 'Well, I just
assumed that if you couldn't be the CEO or the skipper
you wouldn't want to be part of our program.'
said, 'Hey, if there's gonna be a topnotch challenge
out of San Francisco with a real chance to bring
the Cup to the Bay, which is something I really
believe in, I'd be happy to be part of the team.'
he said, 'Oh, in that case we'd love to have you.'
That's the only time we ever talked."
How was it sitting this one out?
"Financially, I have to be honest. It worked
out OK. I got paid the whole way and I didn't have
to go down there and be away from my family."
And when the racing started, and you were at home
watching on OLN?
"Once I saw the racing going on, [I thought]
that's what I do. That's my career. And, really,
it's a shame. I'm probably right at the [ideal balance]
of raw talent and experience. Some sports are just
talent because you have to be so young, but sailing
experience counts, especially when it comes to running
a big team and being stable. The dynamics and complexities
are huge. It's a political game, it's a psychological
Did you go to Auckland at all?
"I went in December for a week when there were
only four teams left. A few people from other teams
wanted to talk to me about next time. At 43 years
old, I've been sailing for 35 years and I've done
enough of these Cups to where I'm technically able
to relate to the design team, and I have enough
experience being at the top of these things to do
a good job with the people and management side.
Next time I'll be 46. It's not that huge a deal,
but these are probably my most impactful years."
Were you rooting for Oracle?
"The obvious knee-jerk thing was that the last
thing I want to see is Larry succeed. He was wrong.
But the truth is, there would have been nothing
better than to have the Cup in my backyard. I could
live at home and go to work. I know I wouldn't have
worked for Oracle, but I could have worked for someone
Your assessment of the Oracle campaign?
"Instability in the management and therefore
a lack of leadership. There wasn't one person that
everybody respected who on a daily basis was making
the decisions, setting the tone, setting the pace,
creating the right environment to foster everybody's
need to be motivated beyond a paycheck. When you
melted it all down, people were there for the paycheck.
There was no person who grabbed at their hearts
and took 'em beyond, and that's what you have to
do to win. You have to go way beyond the paycheck."
Were you surprised when Ellison brought Dickson
"Yeah. Letting Dickson go the first time wasn't
a surprise because it occurred over a long period
of time and it was the crew that didn't want him
there. Everybody was aware of the pressures to get
rid of him the first time."
Did you have problems with Dickson?
"I didn't really, but I never sailed with him.
They always kept me and him opposite."
In the America's Cup Match, how do you rate the
leadership qualities of the skippers, Russell Coutts
and Dean Barker?
"Coutts is a great leader, and he has his own
style. He's kind of a quiet guy, low profile, but
he's a good guy, personable and cares about his
people. They respect him and go the extra mile for
the Coutts formula, it's like the Dennis Conner
of old. It's definitely him. He's the leader, the
skipper, the whole thing. Maybe that was my case
with AmericaOne or Il Moro [in 1992].
New Zealand probably has a slightly different formula.
In the Barker case, it's a little more team oriented,
and with Schnack [Tom Schnackenberg] being the senior
citizen and the guru of design there is more of
the sharing of that leadership role. In my opinion,
that's a slightly more difficult model to make work
because the people aren't quite sure whose beat
they're marching to."
"If you had to boil it down to one thing, once
you pay your entry fee---which was $80 million this
time---you're gonna get talent. The top 500 guys
in the game went to those top four [semifinalists].
What it boils down to after that is leadership.
has it, and you could see it from the get-go. You
knew that if Coutts's boat was gonna be even just
a 'B' boat, he was going to be very hard to get
rid of. But the big surprise was that Coutts and
[Rolf] Vrolijk, the designer, and [Grant] Simmer,
the coordinator, came up with an 'A' boat. That
just ruined it for everybody.
you have the best team with the best leader with
maybe the best boat. Now you're totally screwed."
What is your life after the America's Cup?
"I'm pretty interested in doing the Star this
year. Phil Trinter is gonna sail with me. Honestly,
I'm not in a panic to . . ."
this point, with the interview winding down, we
are walking out to Samba Pa Ti as a sailor approaches
from the other direction. He spots Cayard, does
an about-face and falls into step with us.
me, Paul," he says, "I just wanted to
say hi. A couple of days ago I saw you and it was
'oh, my God!' I'm just a geek from Chicago."
turns to me and says, "I have one favor to
ask. Would you take our picture together?' "
hands me a throwaway camera and stands next to Cayard,
beaming. I click and he gushes his thanks. Cayard
has made his day.
What would it take to make yours?
"The America's Cup is going go either to Europe
or stay in New Zealand which, for me, if I want
to do that game, means living away from the family
Which would be best?
"Europe. Mind you, it's gonna be way more expensive
to do an America's Cup in Europe, but the commercial
aspects will more than make up for that.
what could get my interest is those big multihulls.
It's a new game.
really fast. Maybe I'd do The Race, or I don't know
what [type of boat] Volvo is gonna announce on Feb.
10. But to go lugging around the world on a 65-foot
monohull again, I've done that."