It follows that a person whose passion for adventure and exploration runs so deep that you could call it cellular would not limit an inclination to push the boundaries of possibility to one sport, or type of geography. Still, you would think that when Travis Rice dreams at night, it would be of mountains. Instead, it's just as likely to be of the sea. Last week, he hitched a ride on a Team Oracle USA AC45 catamaran, during one of the America's Cup World Series races in San Francisco, and flooded his Instagram feed with photos from it. It seemed an appropriate time to break the news gently to you, Snowboarding. You're still his number one love, but you're not the only one. A free bird's got to fly. Or in this case, sail.
I've always been a little wonderstruck by the act of sailing and the adventure that comes with it. You travel completely sustained by trade winds. It's pretty insane, if you think about it. I mean, look at all the ways we get around on land. It used to be horses, and you could go anywhere. Once our culture came away from horses and paved roads all over the planet, then we became limited to roads.
We're living in a world where it's hard to do dumb s---. What's amazing to me about sailing is how boundless it is. You're not protected by this safety net of stoplights and safety features. You're truly at the mercy of your own decisions, and if you're an idiot you're going to get smacked.
I love sailing. I've been doing it recreationally for years. I used to race little Sunfishes in the summer, growing up. When I was 18 my dad, who always wanted to have a boat, finally went after his dream and got a 24-foot trimaran, and we sailed from Florida all around the Bahamas. Then he worked up to a 30-foot catamaran, which we were partners on and sailed around for five years.
Then I got my own dream boat -- this high-performance Gunboat 48. We sailed from Philadelphia to Granada, off the coast of Venezuela. I've basically spent three of the last seven months on my catamaran. I love to surf, and I can take it to surf breaks. It's big enough to bring friends. I'm so pumped on it.
So Red Bull just recently became Oracle's official partner. Basically, they just teamed up with the highest-funded most established sailing team. When I heard that, I just had to get on one of their boats.
It took me a year, but I finally got the opportunity to hop on in San Francisco at the America's Cup World Series race there, and go sail with Jimmy Spithill, who is one of the world's most famous competitive sailors. I got to go race for a day in actual competition, in the back of his boat. It was insane.
The America's Cup is one of the longest-running international events in the world. The trophy was first won in 1851. When you win the Cup you get to bring the next race wherever you want, and you also get to set the rules. After Team Oracle won the last Cup in Spain they started working on a design for a new style of boat. The next Cup race, in 2013, will be done with these super high performance 72-foot catamarans with wing sails -- so instead of soft-cloth sails they use actual hard wings, like an airplane, made out of carbon composite.
I was at the Oracle R&D facility in San Francisco and picked up a 40-foot-long huge piece of wing sail, and it weighed like 30 pounds. It's crazy. It's like NASA going into this place, with the engineers all working on top secret technologies for these boats. I got to check out the 72-footer they've been working on for the past year and a half. No one's seen it. Not even in pictures.
This new style of sailing is amazing. It's like F1 racing. I think it's really going to change the demographic, to take it from this frumpy old man's sport to something that people are way more interested in watching. They're basically turning it into an "action sport," because new boats go over 30 knots. I mean they haul ass, and they flip all the time.
Right now they're racing AC45s. Every boat is the same, the same hulls, the same wings. There are five-man teams, and they have it set up so there can be a sixth man on board who does nothing. It's a cool setup that allows people to go along and ride in the race without being in the way.
You still have to know what to do, and when to move when they tack, but anyone could figure it out. But it's gnarly because these boats can flip.
The races are pretty aggressive. When boats are crossing, going opposite ways, they're passing at 50 mph. Capsizing is just part of it.
You have to know your limits, because if you flip your boat and you're out of the race. That's what's cool about it, though -- you have to know how to ride the line.