Owner’s stroke lands Alec Anderson on New J70 Worlds team


BVI’s only professional sailor, Alec Anderson

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway

In February, the territory’s lone professional sailor Alec Anderson, knew he’d be competing in the September 22-29, J70 World Sailing Championships in Marblehead, Massachusetts, after qualifying with San Diego’s Bennet Greenwald’s Team Perseverance.

His 2018 plans including getting married over the summer, had lined up nicely for the Roger Williams University All American sailing graduate. Up until early August, everything had gone as planned, then, everything regarding sailing changed after Greenwald had a stroke about a month ago.

“That left us on the dock and the team basically disbanded and Bennett has to take some time now to recover and re-evaluate if he wants to continue sailing,” Anderson explained. “That left me and the rest of the crew in a mad scramble to keep trucking forward. Luckily, I was able to find a team that needed a crew and I’m now with Pamela Rose’s, Rosebud.”

The Cedar International School graduate said the one design J70 which sails four people, is a little smaller than the IC-24, one of the popular classes in the annual BVI Spring Regatta and there’s no difference between Greenwald’s Perseverance and Rose’s Rosebud.

“For the first year and change of my pro sailing, I was a trimmer, controlling the jib and the spinnaker,” said Anderson, who along with Chris Brockbank, was trying to get the territory back into the Olympic Games for the first time since Robbie Hirst in 1996, when they came up one place short of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. “My role was hyper focused on trimming the sails and making sure the boat’s going fast, the sails are set up right and communicating with the owner. A lot of times the owner is fairly novice, so you spend a lot of time coaching the owner how to drive the boat relative to how you’re trimming the sails. As a professional, your job is to make sure that the owner who’s driving, is doing the best job possible.”

While he will still coach the driver, Anderson’s new role with Rosebud, is now the tactician. He will also be coaching the team and somewhat orchestrating the the coordination of the team, but to also looking beyond the boat, in such areas as the fleet’s landscape as well as the conditions, to make decisions on where to position the boat to ultimately win the race.

“The responsibilities have increased significantly, but it’s all the same sport, looking at all the same variables, executing the same mechanics on board with a little more responsibility,” he told Island Sun Sports. “It typically takes more experience to make good decisions, but I’m confident that I can do a fairly good job and I’m excited for the opportunity.”

The 5th J70 World will have the top 100 sailors and the last four world champions and several national champions competing in 12 races over five days. Anderson said since the team is coming together last minute and have only had one event before Worlds, it’s hard to pinpoint a goal or a target finish. The team he noted, has decided as a goal, to have as much fun as possible while learning as much as possible.

“It sounds a bit redundant and almost like T-ball League, but given our situation, we have to manage our expectations and our owner is looking to racing the J70 competitively, so a major focus is helping her learn as much as possible and improve as much as possible, so that she stays eager and interested in the sport,” explained Anderson. “Even on Perseverance we had quite a few crew changes during the year and success depends on preparation. The more hours you put in, the more likely you are to succeed, but, every time you change one of the crew, you change the variables and it takes time for the team to understand each other and to communicate effectively. It’s frustrating doing the same thing over again, but I’ve actually learned more from this than I would have, if I was just on one team, even if I was doing batter the whole time.”