Paul Manicone: Quantum Ultimate Challenge Cruising Winner

We asked you to share your ultimate sailing challenge for a chance to win the ultimate prize: Quantum sails and a day with an expert. We received hundreds of bold, creative, and inspiring essays and enjoyed reading about your goals and dreams. Thank you to all who entered. We are excited to announce that Paul Manicone is the cruising winners of the Quantum Ultimate Challenge contest. Here's his story:

Paul Manicone and his family live on a horse farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, but it’s the Chesapeake Bay, thirteen miles away, that inspired his ultimate challenge. Paul learned to sail in Israel in the late 1990s, but he didn’t get back on the water again until four years ago, when he purchased his father-in-law’s power boat. He enjoyed using the power boat, but his slip neighbor’s Catalina 36 reminded Paul of his first love – sailing.

Paul’s slip neighbor was a corporate junior executive who decided to take a break to sail around the world. As Paul watched his friend chase his dream, Paul realized that it might actually be possible for him and his family to take a sabbatical and sail the ocean. What started as an abstract idea began to take shape – a trip across the Atlantic to show his kids their family’s roots in Italy, his sailing roots in Israel, and to create new memories as they discovered new places together.

This past winter, Paul finally purchased his first sailboat – a 1982 O’Day 34 named Meritage – and he took a step closer toward achieving his goal. With a launch date set for 2018, Paul, his wife, and their kids are ignoring the hundreds of reason not to do this and preparing themselves and their boat for the journey of a lifetime.

Here's his winning essay:

Head for the Med!

In the spring of 2018, my great adventure will begin – six months in the Mediterranean! This will be an odyssey for me and my family.

As a lifelong boater, I finally bought my first sailboat this past winter. I named her Meritage, the name given to red wine blends. It is a word that combines “merit” and “heritage,” as in the “value of the grape” and the “history of the vine.” Adventures have a way of delivering on those essentials of the human experience: knowing who you are and where you come from.

In 1920, my grandmother Victoria boarded a ship with her family in their port town of Bari, Italy. After World War I, her parents Vito and Maria Manicone knew it was time to begin their great adventure by moving to America. They set sail for New York with seven children on a transatlantic passenger vessel that had been moving immigrants by the thousands.  My grandmother’s excitement was tempered by the tragic loss of two of her siblings as disease spread rapidly in the close quarters of the economy class. Traumatized by travelling, my grandmother left New York only twice in her long life: once on her honeymoon and again, sixty years later, for my wedding in Philadelphia.

In two years, I will carry the spirit of Victoria Manicone from her home in New York across the Atlantic to where it all began in southern Italy. That is our heritage. That is where we come from. Also, who we are as a family began there twelve years ago when my wife and I visited Sicily for our honeymoon. It’s where we dreamed of the family we now have. Our kids will walk through time from one generation to another as they consider the possibilities of their own lives.

Our second destination is Yafo, Israel. This ancient port town is south of Tel Aviv where the waves of the Mediterranean reach their eastern-most shores. This was where I learned to sail, and this was where I spent four Christmases as a medical student in the late 1990s. Yafo is filled with centuries-old churches that welcomed me for the holidays when I longed to be with my family.

At the border of Yafo and Tel Aviv lies a long jetty. Every Friday, I would walk my dog Shelly to a sunset celebration of drumming and singing to welcome the weekend. Arabs and Jews alike would drum and sing in both languages together as a display of unity and peace. It was a true source of inspiration and hope. In two years, my children will be 14 and 16 years old, the very age of many of these young Israelis that I sang with so long ago. My wife and children have heard many stories of my years there, and in the summer of 2018 Meritage will arrive in that ancient land!

The last portion of our trip will be a family discovery to places we have never seen. This leg is unplanned – we’ll go where the winds and tides take us! Greece? Morocco?

My family lives an outdoor lifestyle and we have always fostered a sense of wonder and adventure with our children. We want to show them that life only gets more exciting as you age, and that our fascination with nature and culture only grows over time. This challenge will be a long journey requiring a healthy combination of planning, training, and a well-equipped vessel. Without the core value that “life is an adventure,” we wouldn’t be able to even contemplate such an endeavor. Even Meritage, who has been in the Chesapeake Bay for over thirty years, is saying “I’m ready, let’s go!”

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