Sailor of the Week: June 17-23
There are three things that Alex Mehran, 28, enjoys most about sailing – friendship, history and challenges. “I have never found a group of people with whom I so closely share common values and find such compatibility with,” Alex explained. “I appreciate the rich history of the sport, from sailing’s versatile role as a commercial and defense necessity to emotion inspiring moments in offshore racing. And the challenges I have been faced with in this sport has reinforced the passion I have for sailing.”
Alex had been fascinated with the world of shorthanded offshore sailing ever since his mother bought him a video of the 1990 BOC Challenge at the age of 11, and he would pretend that he was solo on an Open 60 while sailing his Laser on the San Francisco City Front. Years later, Alex turned this fantasy into a reality.
In his singlehanded event debut, Alex won the first leg of the Bermuda One-Two Yacht Race last week on his Owen Clarke Class 40, Cutlass. Not only did Alex win the 650-mile race, but the nearest competitor in the following fleet was 100 miles behind. The Bermuda One-Two Yacht Race consists of a singlehanded race from Newport, RI to St. George’s, Bermuda and a doublehanded race back. Alex started making the transition to big boats with his preparation for the Bermuda One-Two in late 2008. He and fellow Brown University sailor, Nick Halmos, bought a 2007 Owen Clarke Class 40 from an Englishman. This was a risky investment, considering they had very little hands on experience with this boat. They decided to engage in high-intensity, offshore training for six months in Florida that included 6,000 ocean miles. Alex and Nick spent hours practicing maneuvers, going through safety procedures, worst case scenarios, studying navigation, taking inventory, and they even paid a few professionals to race against them.
The moment of truth finally came for Alex, who was scheduled to start the race on June 5. The first race of the Bermuda One-Two was Alex’s singlehanded solo mission from Newport to St. George’s. This was the race he had waited for his entire sailing life. Admittedly, Alex was nervous, “I had the same butterflies that I always had competing in big Laser regattas.” Alex took the lead shortly after the start and never relinquished the position, as Cutlass arrived at Mills Breaker Buoy in Bermuda the winner. “To me, the result wasn’t really the important part, rather it was the feeling that the experiment had been a success,” said Alex. “I had found another area of the sport that presented new challenges.”
Alex and Nick are preparing for the start of race two on July 18.