Longtime East Coast pro rigger/sailors Tim Fetsch and Ben Poucher are taking a decidedly un-american route to offshore racing, and in fact their shoestring Class 40 program is driven far more by passion and hope than by good sense. That’s not a bad thing – hell, it works for most of France – but now they need to make some shit happen for Icarus Racing to continue. Fortunately for you guys, that means some great opportunities to learn from these experienced sailors while racing some of this hemisphere’s best events, in exchange for helping their program move along. You can see our first interview with Tim and Ben from last year here, and below is an update from Poucher:
It’s no secret that we threw together our Icarus Racing 2011 Atlantic Cup bid at the very last minute, and worked with what we had – which wasn’t much. Despite all that, we felt it to be a massively rewarding and overall successful venture which left us wanting more. After the Atlantic Cup, we sat down with USMMA Sailing Foundation team leader Ralfie Steitz to discuss the future of the Icarus racing program. For hours we talked about how we’d get the once-abandoned boat back out racing, and then threw any real logic aside and agreed to move forward, figuring it out as we went along, with the ultimate goal of winning the 2012 Atlantic Cup. We quickly found support from the generous people at Newport Shipyard, Gorilla Rigging, and North Sails, and with their help, we started the long road to a competitive campaign.
I have this recurring dream that I’ll wake up one day to a phone call from some mysterious, hither-to unknown family member, who’ll tell me that my secret trust fund is now available for my use, but the reality is that neither Tim nor I have anything like that. We don’t have rich relatives to lean on, we didn’t sell our startup during the dot-com boom, and that means it’s back to the daily grind. We’ve looked at each other plenty of times and said “what in the hell are we doing this for?” But then we look back at our beautiful boat, and the opportunity that’s been handed to us, and DAMNIT – we are going to make this work!
Over the summer, our goals were (1) to get the boat up to Class 40 specifications, (2) to make the boat safe, (3) to get some real sails, and (4) to raise some money to help make her faster. The boat work included installing bunks and foam for Class 40 rules, as well as putting a new bottom on her. Interlux came to the table and gave us the bottom paint, and after a few days of tireless sanding, we started to look like a race boat. At the same time, a few donations came into the USMMA foundation to help us. With a little money in the bank, North sails went right to work spending it, and before we knew it, and our new 3Di main and jib arrived. What an amazing experience to have some REAL sails!
During our attempt at becoming Class legal, we ran into a speed bump – one that may or may not have included a chainsaw and a large lump of lead. We were dead set on getting to Charleston from Newport so we could finish our work, and we grabbed the first weather window we could, just before Thanksgiving. We pushed through some serious weather, and the boat was an absolute joy despite the cold and miserably wet conditions – and we made it to Chucktown in just three days. A brief period in the yard here to fix the bulb, and Icarus was back in the water ready for more work.
We spent the next few weeks working on other boat programs, our free time spent making calls and visiting folks to raise money for Icarus. Just before Christmas, we logo’d up the new mainsail with Maui Jim Sunglasses’ logo – our first official sponsor! Hopefully, we can sign a few more sponsors who want to use the boat for promotional events and PR sailing, proving that this concept can work as well in the States as it does so commonly in Europe. We know we can return serious value to commercial partners, but not without help from a wide range of sponsors and private donations to the USMMA Sailing Foundation. So if you like what we’re doing, please spread the word!
Go Sailing With Tim and Ben
We’ve got some big plans for the next few months, and we’re looking for people to crew along with us for some of the Caribbean’s best races. Our plan is to head to Antigua in February for the Caribbean 500, and then on to St. Maarten for the Heineken. Icarus is also available to help you promote your product or company as a floating billboard or as a platform to take your customers or employees out for a special experience.
Please check out our website or Facebook page, and get in touch with us right away if you’re interested in being part of the Icarus Racing Team.