Peter Isler’s Close Call

Peter Isler points out where Rambler's keel should be.

Peter Isler points out where Rambler's keel should be. Photos: Mike Ferring

(Note: Video excerpt of Peter’s talk available at the bottom of this post.)

Out of air, swimming madly, spotting two black dots, hoping they were a crewman’s boots, reaching for them. Snatched from the water, gasping for the best breath of air he’d ever had. It was Peter Isler’s watery escape from the huge monohull racing boat Rambler after her keel suddenly snapped off during heavy seas in the Fastnet, plunging to the bottom, unbalancing and turtling the boat in minutes.

Peter recounted the story in dramatic detail for the AYC membership meeting Tuesday night (10/11) before a packed house. The Rambler crew all survived, but it was clear from Peter’s description that there were several close calls and some of the crew might have been saved by a timely photograph. A photograph? Moments before the crash, a photographer took a scheduled shot of the crew on the rail, all properly lined up in PFDs. Even though everyone was supposed to wear PFDs on deck, it didn’t always happen. The picture did it.

Peter autographs his new book.

Peter autographs his new book.

Many in the room full of AYCers went home after the meeting clutching an autographed copy of Peter’s latest book, Peter Isler’s Little Blue Book of Sailing Secrets, a collection of random thoughts, recollections and suggestions from a life at sail. Here’s a guy who was the best college sailor in the country during his time at Yale, hanging out with people like Stan Honey, last year’s Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. He was onboard as Dennis Connor brought the America’s Cup back from Australia and has been part of four Cup campaigns since. He’s announced for ESPN and Versus Cup broadcasts. He’s participated in a Volvo around-the-world campaign. He’s helped develop the leading software for competition sailing. He’s written several books. And now he’s in demand as a motivational speaker. That’s some kind of life at sail.

Next month: another star attraction will appear at the AYC membership meeting, Tuesday, November 15, at 7pm at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills. Peter “Luigi” Reggio, one of the world’s top race officers and easily the funniest and most outspoken.

The Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills was filled with AYC people.

The Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills was filled with AYC people.

Here’s a portion of Peter’s talk, shot and edited by Mike Ferring: