Take Your Passion Cruising

Ellen Sanpere races her home, combining cruising and racing

Upwind It only took about 40 years and two failed marriages for me to discover my passion is sailing. The question, “Would you like to go sailing?” was not one I could ever answer in the negative. My calendar revolves around regattas and racing schedules to this day.

As a young adult, I raced every weekend in Chicago, and later Annapolis. When the skipper bought a J-33, I flew to J-World Performance Sailing School to learn a higher-tech version. At J-World, I sailed with a man whose wife would eventually introduce me to the man of my dreams, a sailor and a racer, of course. He lived on his racing boat and raced his “house.”

Tony and Ellen This man is 10 years older than I am, and when his company’s downsizing gave him an opportunity to retire at age 55, he took it. He had made it clear from the first, he wanted to sail his 35’ sailboat to the Caribbean to race before he got too old. My decision was to go with him, as spending ten more years with my company seemed like cruel and unusual punishment for the crime of being over-40 and female. We would be able to live simply on his retirement income and would cruise from race to race in the islands.

International Rolex Regatta St. Thomas, USVI March 25-27, 2005  Antonio & Ellen Sanpere's (Christiansted, VI) Soverel 27 CAYENNITA, winner of the Non Spinnaker Racing class.  © 2005 Dan Nerney/Rolex  Editorial free.After a 42-day trip down the ICW to Key West and a season of racing in the Virgin Islands, we decided 35 feet was a little small for the two of us and my two large felines, and we sold the boat and bought a 51’ sloop, a tired old charter boat that we fixed up little by little. We lived aboard and cruised throughout the Caribbean, did some racing on other people’s boats, and I became the mother of the mother ship. I didn’t mind not getting banged up on little racing boats one bit, yet still enjoyed the camaraderie of the race crew.Signal Boat

I also got involved in the race committee on the water, and I love being in the midst of the action, camera strung around my neck. Making friends with other RC members led to working on other race committees as a “celebrity” guest on occasion.

Fourteen years after leaving our land-based existence, we still live aboard. Ellen working on the race committeeWe don’t cruise as much as we did, but racing still rules our lives. As the end of our live-aboard days approaches, we have purchased a J-36 for my husband to race even after we sell the 51’ sloop and move into a condo in St. Croix (someday). My involvement with the local race committee has expanded to becoming the media contact for the St. Croix Yacht Club Hospice Regatta, but I won’t let that stop me from being on the water with the racers waiting for my “Prep” flag signal.

About Ellen Sanpere

Free lance writer, photographer and life-long racer, Ellen Sanpere has lived on Cayenne III, mostly in St. Croix, USVI, with husband, Tony, since 1998, with annual visits to Chicago, IL where she sails Lake Michigan.

Her articles have appeared in the Caribbean Compass, Latitudes & Attitudes, All At Sea, Cruising World, The Boca, SpinSheet. She is also a contributor to Gwen Hamlin’s “Admiral’s Angle” column (Latitudes and Attitudes Magazine.)

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What’s your passion? Have you taken it cruising?
Let us know. Email kathy@forcruisers.com or leave a comment below.

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