Monday, February 1, 2010

Sailor Profile - Simeon Tienpont

The youngster on the sailing team at 28, Simeon Tienpont (NED) adds a lot of size, enthusiasm and ability to the front of the USA.

As bowman, Simeon is at the sharp end, balancing on a very small, extremely fast platform, as he performs sail changes and moves gear around.

"I think I'm the youngest guy on the sailing team and probably the only one never to have been in an America's Cup before," he says.

But that doesn't mean he's inexperienced. Tienpont sailed around the world in the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race with ABN AMRO II.

"I was planning to do another Volvo but some people who were with the VOR team I was involved with came to this team and I got an opportunity to come here as well and that was it," he says. "Before that I was mainly involved in offshore sailing but I got an opportunity to join here two years ago and I grabbed it."

Simeon started sailing young, in Optimists back when he was six years old - 'because my brother was doing it' - and hasn't stopped since. Now he's learning from some of the best sailors in the world.

"In the last two years, a lot of guys have been mentors to be me. You can learn so much from all of these guys - they're at the top of what they do - so I just try to soak it up," he says.

"The difference between this and a standard racing yacht is that boat is actually pretty simple, at least for what I do on board. Everything is straightforward, but all the gear is very big and very heavy. The boat has a very different motion and is much faster of course. So all of your planning has to be different. When you're going into the top mark at 30 knots, it's a different game to say a TP 52. Once you're flying on one hull, the boat is quite stable, but you really notice the speed through the windage. It's very loud and hard to communicate and the boat is very long. The forces on the sails and on the halyards are unbelievable."

Tienpont says he's enjoyed the closeness of the team and the enthusiasm he sees as the sailing crew pulls together with the Match fast approaching.

"The team is tight. As sailors, we've been working together to move this project forward for the last two and half years. We've spent a lot of hours on the boat. I think this project - because it's maybe a smaller group on the boat than in previous Cups - it's been easy for us to stay tight. In San Diego, we were pretty much living together as well, so that's helped us stay close.

"And now that we are at the point where we're going to race soon, it's a great feeling."