Thursday, September 1, 2011
APS/Spinsheet Chesapeake Racer Profile - September
If Annapolis sailor Nicole Weaver had a tagline for her sailing career, it would read "baptism by fire." A native of Stratford-on-Avon, England, Weaver got into sailing "by accident," when she was working for IBM in Warwick, and one of her squash friends had a proposal for her. His wife and regular crew on his Lark (like a 505) was pregnant and too occupied with her other child to race every weekend. He told Weaver he would teach her to sail if she committed to the entire summer as his race crew. "I learned on a weeknight and went to a three-day regatta the following weekend," she says, " I loved it immediately. I sailed with him for the next three years, and he and his family became family to me."
Years later when she was working for a software company in Santa Cruz, CA, Weaver approached someone in a lunch line who was wearing a regatta T-shirt and landed herself a regular crew spot on Express 37. After doing mostly weeknight racing and the distance race known as the Windjammers Race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, she started itching to learn how to drive. She bought herself a Hobie 16. "After one week, I went to the Hobie 16 Nationals. It blew 30 knots every day. I got so good at righting the boat."
For three years , she raced Hobies and the transitioned into bigger boat racing (40+ feet). Her crew came in dead last at the Puerto Vallarta Race (originating in San Diego, CA) and "had a lot of time to bond. 'Euro Trash Girl' was our theme song." When she flew out to New York in 1999 to see a J/120 for sale ("I'll take it," she said, flooring the broker), she knew the theme song had to be the boat name.
A few months later, when her career shifted, she had Euro Trash Girl trucked back east in Annapolis. She and her crew competed in 20 events the first year, including the Crystal Cup in the Bahamas, Key West Race Week, and the SORC Race. "We had a lot of fun for the next few years. We decided that we had to 1) be safe, 2) have fun, 3) do as well as we could."
The Euro Trash Girl team scored second in CBYRA High Point in 2000, 2001, and 2002. They twice won their class at the Solomons Island Invitational (2000 and 2001) and once, the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge (2002). The team came in second at Key West Race Week (2004) and won its class at Charleston Race Week (2004). Weaver and crew also won their class and PHRF overall at the Annapolis to Newport Race in 2005. She believes she was the first women skipper to win this race overall.
In the past few years, Weaver's passions have turned to distance racing-although extensive world business travel has prohibited her organizing such races on her own boat. On the J/122 Teamwork, she crewed for a winning Fort Lauderdale to Charleston Race (2009). On the J/122 Flying Jenny, she was watch captain for first-place finishes in the Annapolis to Newport Race (2009) and Bayview to Mackinac Race (2010), as well as watch captain for the second-in-class (by only nine minutes) J/120 Shinnecock team at the Marblehead to Halifax Race (2011).
As she's been talking about for five years, Weaver is having repairs done on Euro Trash Girl before putting her up for sale. "It's a shame she's not being used. She's a great boat."
What was your scariest sailing experience?
My first delivery on my boat to Florida. I hadn't been offshore in my own boat before. It was blowing 25 to 30 knots, and the boat was making noises I hadn't heard before. I was reading the chapter in The Perfect Storm on the physiology of drowning. I decided to close the book and save that chapter for later.
What are your non-sailing passions?
I run, bike, and snowboard. (I'm an ex-triathlete-don't like to swim.) I like hiking, camping, and most outdoor stuff. I'm dying to buy a stand-up paddleboard, but I've been stopping myself because I have too many toys.
Is there anything new you'd like to accomplish?
A Transpac, a trans-Atlantic crossing, the Pineapple Cup, racing in Europe...If I met the right person, a circumnavigation would not be out of the question.
What gear do you depend on?
I love my Musto foulies, Keens, Kaenon sunglasses, my Velocitek Speedpuck, and Trader Joe's chocolate covered expresso beans (I cannot distance race without them.)