For Fowler understanding finally led to passion
Kinley Fowler started sailing at the age of 10, but it wasn’t a successful debut.
“I hated everything about it.” he said. “I just didn’t understand it — couldn’t work out how the wind worked or why we were heeling over — but as I started to understand more it became more exciting.”
He must have been a quick learner because Fowler soon found himself racing on the pro-circuit before joining Oracle Team USA in 2012, first as a volunteer on the shore crew for an America’s Cup World Series event before being promoted to a member of the sailing team that completed one of the greatest comebacks in sport.
“The last America’s Cup in San Francisco was just a massive learning experience for me,” Fowler said. “I was surrounded by legends of the sport so it was pretty easy to learn. The biggest challenge was to try and absorb as much knowledge as I could.”
He’s learnt the lessons well. Now, in addition to his role on board as a trimmer/grinder, he is a link between the sailing team and the engineers.
“On the shore side, it’s my job to be the link between the sailing team and the hydraulics and electronics team,” he said.
On the water, it’s no different, where everyone on board plays multiple parts.
“With these boats, everyone is a grinder, but I have secondary roles as well, trimming the jib and controlling one of the daggerboards through the manoeuvres,” Fowler said. “Compared to the last America’s Cup we’re doing more. We’re moving more parts and going similar speeds.
“The biggest difference is we only have six guys on board so everyone is having to work at maximum heart rate just about the entire time just to get the boat around the racecourse. It’s full on.”
But there’s no place he’d rather be. For the child who hated sailing, he’s come a long way — right to the pinnacle of sailing.
“The America’s Cup is the top of the sport,” Fowler said. “The boats are awesome and in a place like Bermuda, it’s an amazing race to be a part of.”
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