The Challenge Continues: The Manicone Adventures

First he bought a boat, then he found himself sailing solo in an unexpected gale. Where will last year’s Ultimate Challenge winner Paul Manicone end up next? Read on to find out what he plans to do in the coming year.

Always be Learning - Paul works on his sewing skills with his home machine.

A little over a year ago, Quantum Sails hosted an essay contest asking sailors to talk about the embodiment of sailing: their ultimate challenges. Hundreds submitted, and two winners – one racer and one cruiser – received full sets of Quantum sails and a day with a Quantum expert. Paul Manicone won the cruising prize and a day with Quantum’s cruising expert Dave Flynn. (You can read his winning Ultimate Challenge Contest essay here.)

This year, Paul is tapping into the combination of his adventurous spirit, advice from professionals at Quantum sails, and encouragement from friends as he prepares for the 450-mile ARC Delmarva Rally this June.

The 450-mile, three-leg excursion from the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean is set to coincide with a full moon for better visibility. It will also provide fantastic sailing alongside other boats without the pressure of being a race. For Paul, preparing for the rally is very much a part of the fun. He broke the tasks into three categories: the boat, the crew, and skills. 

To get the boat ready, Paul started by adding safety equipment. Items such as vests and radios were on his Christmas list last year, and he’ll complete a thorough rig check before the boat sails any long distances. But perhaps the most meaningful project has been with his eleven-year old daughter. The two have been making the dodger sail in their basement this winter, using the same Singer sewing machine that belonged to Paul’s grandmother.

The sewing machine holds special memories, Paul remembers his grandmother fixing his clothes on that machine, though he didn’t pay it much attention at the time. After his grandmother passed, the machine fell into his possession. He took it apart to give it some love and found that it worked incredibly. His daughter had already made small covers for the boat (the companion way, wheel, and winch covers) on her own sewing machine. Taking the next step together and sewing a dodger on a family machine has made the project quite special.

Paul’s next preparation step is to find crew. He needs a minimum of four crew, and his requirements are good balance and an adventurous spirit. He figures it will be easy to find friends who want an exciting sailing adventure, but he has to make sure everyone has a safe trip. That’s leading him to the final step: making sure the crew is skilled.

Paul learned the importance of sailing skills when he got caught alone on his boat in a gale. Taking the same advice that he and his wife give to their kids – if you fall off the horse, you have to get right back on – he got back on the water. This time he took crew, and he saw how different everything was when there were more hands to share the work. Both of those experiences taught him the importance of skilled sailors, so he wants to make sure the rally crew feels comfortable in both heavy air and night sailing.

The rally is the next stepping stone in Paul’s adventure, and beyond that, “Right now I am focused on the Demarva and then maybe the ARC Carribean. I think it will be a huge learning experience and shed light on what we need in terms of skills and equipment”. He continues, “The big question is the boat. I chose my O'Day 34 as a great bay boat for cruising and friendly racing. I did not intend to take her on a transatlantic passage at the time of purchase. As I gather experience and ASA certifications over the next year we'll decide on whether to trade her out to a proper blue water boat”. His ultimate goal is to sail with the family across the Atlantic Ocean. Paul concluded the interview with one piece of advice for someone planning a similar trip: start with the right boat. Then build up your skills on that particular boat and focus on slowly adding in the necessary equipment for long passages.

Click here to follow learn more about the ARC Delmarva rally.

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