Sailor and businessman Troy Sears is heading out on an epic nautical road trip that might not end until he’s circled the globe with America, a replica of the schooner that gave the America’s Cup its name.
Sears will leave San Diego on Tuesday evening on a tour that will take him to yacht clubs and races up and down the East Coast and then to the Caribbean. His calendar is largely booked through the final race of the America’s Cup in late June 2017 in Bermuda.
From there, he plans to head to Europe and points beyond.
“I’m hoping the tour will take me all the way around the world,” Sears said. “If I go all the way around the world, I’d end up in San Diego.”
At the very least, it’ll be a voyage of a lifetime for Sears, 53, whose company, Next Level Sailing, has operated America’s Cup boats for charters and whale watching trips since 2003.
“This is the only time in my life I will be doing it,” he said. “If you only go once in your life, you want to touch as many clubs and organizations as possible.”
Sears, an America’s Cup aficionado who has had a relationship with two-time defending cup champion Oracle Team USA, visited 34 yacht clubs with his 139-foot America on a West Coast tour last fall.
The purpose of the tours is to generate awareness of the 35th defense of the America’s Cup. While the cup is still held by San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, the racing will be in Bermuda.
America is scheduled to make more than 100 stops along the East and Gulf coasts between May 7 and just before Thanksgiving. After traversing the Panama Canal, Sears will arrive in New York just in time for the America’s Cup World Series regatta. His 2016 schedule will end with a stop at the Ernest Hemingway Marina in Havana. Then it’s on to the Caribbean and finally Bermuda for the America’s Cup.
“I have come to learn there is a millennial generation which does not know about the event at all, and a baby-boomer generation that has a huge variety of emotions,” Sears said. “They range from being super excited about the catamarans that are used today, to wanting to see the cup remain exactly the way it’s been since they’ve been alive. They love the boats that have been sailed in the cup, the monohulls, since World War II.”
The original America was built to showcase the superiority of American naval architecture at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. It beat a fleet of British ships around the Isle of Wight in 1851 to win the trophy that became the America’s Cup.