Hyperion’s Peter Holmberg: I like the idea of going somewhere new like the Ibiza Joysail Regatta.
Peter Holmberg has tasted top level success in sailing’s Olympic, America’s Cup and Match Racing arenas. Since winning his Finn Olympic silver medal in 1988 he has gone on to victories in match racing’s Congressional Cup four times, the 2002 Match Racing World Tour and was on Alinghi’s 32nd America’s Cup winning team. Now, after decades on the grand prix, big boat and Superyacht scene the native of the US Virgin Island, admits he is much more selective about his big boat racing, choosing carefully where and when he races, seeking to maximise his enjoyment and that of the owner and crew round about him. Cruising in Europe on his Outremer 45 catamaran is an important part of his life. His main racing programme remains the J Class Topaz which he steers. On board Hyperion, the latest entry in the Ibiza JoySail so far, Holmberg will race between Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera. This new Regatta has become an attractive competition thanks to additions like this one.
Holmberg is looking forwards to Ibiza JoySail Regatta on the event’s biggest boat, the 155 foot Frers designed Hyperion, which he has raced and help run successfully at a couple of Saint Barth’s Bucket regattas. But he is heading to Ibiza with a very open mind, ready to see what Ibiza JoySail has to offer, how it is run and how it plays out.
It is an established friendly relationship which sees him return to Hyperion and he is looking forwards to being back on board, Holmberg recalls, “A good friend of mine worked for Holland Yachtbouw in the Netherlands and they chartered the boat for the Saint Barth’s Bucket a couple of years ago. And the owner is very cool and the captain is very cool as well and we had a great time. Hyperion is a special yacht because it was the first boat which Mani and German Frers cooperated on when Mani was growing up. And for me it comes from a time when Superyachts got stupid with interiors and so it sails well like a proper sailboat. I have good relationship with the captain and so every time he gets a charter he calls me to see if I am available.”
And so the first Bucket odyssey was a happy one, and one to be repeated, “ I did the Bucket with them. I bring in my little ‘squad’ with me and so that is what they like to do, so we are coming back. I am keen to go and try the regatta and the owner is keen and so we are going to do some upgrades to the boat and some little upgrades and then go and do Ibiza JoySail.”
As a key member of the J Class Topaz afterguard, Holmberg is going to Ibiza with an open, ‘watching brief’ ready to report back to other class members.
“ We made a big presentation to the J Class last year trying to get it on the schedule and they were such a good group to cooperate with. It is a new event created with a blank sheet of paper, literally saying ‘what is it the sailors want?…we will give it to them….’ And I like the style, the idea, a new place and a new event. It is a good opportunity to do it right and to capture all the good things on the circuit.”
Holmberg has been to hundreds of big boat regattas, and considers what makes the best of them successful, “Format is important. For the J’s they were originally offering a combination of windward-leewards and coastal races. The base set up, boats berthed together down the wharf, containters nearby. It needs a very customer friendly attitude to make our involvement easy and fun.”
And he is very much looking forwards to visiting Ibiza, “ I have not been to Ibiza. I have been to Mallorca and to Menorca and I have heard about Ibiza and the nightlife but I hope that will be over and done. I put it on the table again this year for the J’s and a few of us are intrigued, ‘let’s go explore and see what it is like. I like the idea. I like the proximity to Palma. It is easy for the owners. It is easy for the captains. It is a hop over and do the regatta and a new place to check out. I like the idea of going somewhere new. People talk of a wind issue late season and that is where the committee is important, don’t try and send us round an island if the conditions are flaky, put us in a bay and run a short course with options to shorten. Going somewhere new is great.
He lays out the essentials for a good Superyacht regatta: “A very receptive race committee is important, giving the customers what they want, that being either hours on the water, the types of courses. I think primarily having a receptive, open minded race committee giving the crews what they want is key. These owners are not looking to log hours on the water. They are looking to have fun, good racing, to have a good time with their mates, their families. So number 1 is a good race committee, logistics and set up is important – make it easy for the captains – for the crew to get in an out, to enjoy a little town with a little bit of nightlife. That is all good.”
Hyperion has been successful with him but having fun as well as doing well is important, “We have been on the podium at the two Buckets I did. It is not such a high priority, we have fun, we sail and being on the podium is nice.”
And being selective, choosing to do events for the right reasons and with the right teams, is vital now, “ For me I have been at the sharp end of sailing a lot. I have done the Olympics, the America’s Cup, the grand prix scene with the TP52s, to be honest I am ready to cruise, man. I have been going upwind and downwind my whole life and I have the medals on the wall. A little bit of cruising and just enjoying life is important. I am a little tired of the grand prix, cut throat to get a result, racing. I am very selective as to what I do, so it has to be with good people, a good owner. It is not about taking firsts it is about having a good time and performing well with the tools you have. The Superyacht thing is a challenge. It needs management and I guess that is what you get when you get my grey hairs, I am good at a managing a big team, getting a big boat around a track, and making happy owners. It is a little bit of give back to the sport and enjoy life a little bit more.”
That said he still loves pulling together a cool team of underdogs and making them stronger than the sum of their parts and having a good time along the way.
“ My management style is about people, it is not about assembling a bunch of rock stars and having the biggest guns at the shoot out I would rather have cool team. I like being the underdog I grew up on a small island and it is all about chemistry, putting the package together and achieving results with more than what it might appear you have on the surface. That is the reward. I am very open but I expect a lot. We have debriefs with videos on most of my superyacht projects. We are there to learn and give the owner a result. I want to lift up the team around me and learn together.”