Oh hey, I am back putting the pen to the paper so to speak with my first blog post in quite awhile. A lot has happened in this 2015th year, and as it’s winding down I felt a new blog post was way overdue and since it has been so long, I’m making this a year in review. And now, a look at the year through the eyes of Petey Crawford and Penalty Box Productions.
January – I started 2015 in another hemisphere; I went down unda, STRAYA! As our first stop on the Sperry/Sailing Anarchy World Tour we hit up Sorrento, Australia, and as usual completely crushed it. I met some amazing people and worked with some of the best in the industry, and at the end of the day I think the product we cranked out was some of the best to date and far better than the “official” event stuff. From there I flew directly to Key West to sail one of my least favorite boats I have ever raced. Great times, and great people but I do not think I will be racing in that fleet again if I have a choice. Silver lining, I didn’t break my ankle this year and I met a truly amazing person who I completely adore and would heavily rely on during the rest of the year, despite our paths rarely crossing.
February/March – I returned back to the D and hunkered in for what seemed like forever for my first Midwest winter in a long time. Even with all of the travel I was fortunate enough to be there to experience the biggest snowfall of the season followed immediately by the biggest cold snap. Luckily Bora and I had a massive home improvement project going on which kept us busy and out of the elements for the most part. There were days when neither of us would even come close to the front door. It looked scary outside and we did our best to avoid the horror. Worst part for sure was my introduction to kidney stones. WOW now that’s some painful shit right there. No bueno…drink water everybody, drink lots and lots of water.
April – I think my last post was from April and it pretty much covered the whole month. See here. The highlight of the month was getting back into what I had thought was going to be my E scow (more on this later) and kicking some ass in the Charleston E scow Regatta. The low point was during the event my mom had found out that her Cancer had come back in a big way. I went home for a minute and got ready to head to the next gig.
May – Cedar, Indiana for the C scow Icebreaker, talk about debauchery…this event is awesome and always a good time, the club is a bit off the beaten path so once you arrive you really don’t leave and they take great care of everyone. After this I went straight to NYC to see mom and concurrently had round 2 of kidney stones. Drink more water! At least the hospital was a few blocks away and I felt it coming on so the pain was managed quickly. After a few weeks with mom I took the train to Newport RI. World Tour Stop # 4 for the Volvo Ocean Race. Clean and I rolled in and covered the event and spent some quality time with friends in Newport. The scene at Fort Adams was packed with the biggest crowd of spectators I have ever seen in the US at a sailing event. We cooked up some great interviews and some good stuff on the pre race dockwalks. Why weren’t YOU there? 🙂 Wrapped up the event with one of the best interviews ever.
June/July – I headed back to Newport for my birthday, it was Crunch time, and I was really happy to be hanging out. One of the best days followed by one of the worst. Moms condition worsened and I had to bounce prematurely to get back to see her and help move her into hospice care. My sister was relocating the family to NJ at this same time so there was a lot going on and my help was very much needed. We got mom all sorted and I spent the next 2 weeks by her side, just hanging out. I had a regatta back in Newport with Extreme 2 so I had to say my goodbyes to mom, which was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. She knew it was time to say goodbye and we both fought through it the best we could. Shitty stuff but it happens, and we said what we had to say. At the NYYC Annual Regatta we crushed everyone and won the first C&C 30 OD event ever held. Dan was stoked and the program sort of blew up from that point and has really taken shape since then. From there I flew home and started packing my gear for a European trip that would take me to 4 countries over a months time. I shifted some schedules around a bit & found a way to get back to see mom again for another day or 2 before I left. If the last goodbye was hard this one was going to be way worse. As her condition deteriorated I knew she wouldn’t be there when I got back from Europe. There was zero chance of it so we went through the painful goodbye process yet again and you know what? It was indeed even harder, but before I left mom asked me for something she could have with her. I gave her my ring and she wore it proudly. Mom and I talked about everything over those last few days, she knew that I wasn’t going through all of this alone, she knew I had a big support team and gave me something for the one person helping me not to get Crunched by all of this. It meant a lot to me and mom knew this, moms have a way of knowing these things.
I left NJ and boarded a flight to Gothenburg Sweden for yet another stop on the World Tour. #5 was the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race, Why weren’t YOU there? Sick times in Sweden for sure, after the finish we were invited to a club for a VIP party thrown for Abu Dhabi. Now that was fun, tub after tub of bottles to pop, and smoking hot Swedish girls everywhere, literally everywhere. The best part however, was One Direction (ya, me either) had the VIP area next to us but nobody gave AF. It was all about Abu Dhabi and nobody cared about them, not the DJ’s, not the staff, and not the girls obviously haha. Before I went out that night I was able to send my mom a text message that I will remember forever. She was about to die and I made sure the front desk sent a nurse to read it to her as she was so out of it she couldn’t operate her phone anymore. The next afternoon I got the text that I was dreading but expecting. Mom had checked out. Martha was able to be with her and helped her let go, mom was fighting it but when Martha told her it was ok to go and that Grandma and Grandpa were there to take her, she closed her eyes and left us with the memories. I grabbed my camera and my phone and went for a walk through town, I ended up on the rocky shoreline of the island we were staying on, just taking it all in. It was a cold and cloudy day, but all of the sudden, and I’m not exaggerating, the sun broke through the clouds right in front of me, I knew it was mom. And she knew I would be ok. A massive thanks to all my friends and extended family that texted, called, and e-mailed, to let me know they were thinking about me. That’s when you find out who your true friends are, and that’s what makes the sailing community so very special, a huge outpouring of support from my sailing family, and it all made a world of difference.
Next stop, Middelfart Denmark for the Melges 24 Worlds. I was there as an ambassador for the 2016 Worlds in Miami. Serving as the regatta Chair has been a side (full time) job and I was there to promote and get people excited to come to Miami to make the event the biggest Melges 24 World Championship ever. I got to see Bora and his team once again land on the podium but fall short of their ultimate goal. Nobody was going to beast Chris Rast though, dude was on fire and he crushed it with a race to spare. Had a great time with Jens and Jürgen Wathne and the Party Girl Team that put me up.Those dudes were awesome, we even had a killer blender party on the dock as part of the 2016 promo push (we took over some guys floating caravan). Before the end of the event we had 20 boats signed up for 2016 in Miami. Today we have 86 registered with a litle less than a year to go! 130 or BUST!
When it was time to leave the Fart, Bear and I had quite a struggle. Our train was cancelled. No big deal right? Just get on the Train Bus. WTF is a Train Bus? Relax, its really not that cool, just a bus that takes you to the train, well a train that works. We figured well it’s a no brainer, it’s free and everyone else is doing it. What could possibly go wrong? We boarded and started the journey. Both of us had tight flight schedules and didn’t have much time to spare, so the stress level was already a factor. The train bus proceeded to stop at every single stop on the broken trains route. Stop by stop, minute by minute, Bear was getting more uncomfortable at every tick. Our stress levels rose to dangerous thresholds. We looked for cabs at every stop constantly checking with Google maps. Debating which route to take, on one hand it would be ridiculously expensive but we could indeed make it in time. We still needed to make another train just to make our flights. Seemingly 20 stops later the Train Bus finally rolled into the station. We again debated, grab a cab and make it for sure or run like OJ through the train station to catch the train that was scheduled to depart like a minute ago. We opted for the train, and luckily not only made it but were blessed with some prime entertainment. Gout foot guy was awesome humor and then the seats next to the old codger that pounded cans of warm beer and mumbled incoherently at us. Good times with the Bear. And we both made our flights thank god.
I stopped in The Hague to meet up with Sander, and we hit the road in the am destined for La Rochelle France for World Tour Stop # 6. J-70 Worlds, meh…. The best part was when I convinced Clean to do our outro (6:59) like I wanted. It took some doing but it was money! ...And a little disturbing at the same time.
Trip over, time to go home and immediately get to Port Huron to sail on Legend for the Bayview to Mackinac race. We started ok, got hammered in a big squall, were in damn near last place but then came back hard at the end to finish respectfully. Good sunrises and sunsets and good times sailing with new friends ending with the Jeff Dungan annual bike tour. After a big day and night it was time to hit it, Shriner, Sleeves and I headed for Harbor Springs for the UGotta Regatta on the Extreme 2. PHRF regatta, LMPHRF jacked our rating before the 1st race, long story shitty result. Such a beautiful place to race and I love it there, but racing PHRF isn’t our bag baby.
August/September – Spent some more time in Harbor Springs with Gulari/Sayre as they trained in Michigan’s version of paradise. I then headed west to Oregon’s version of paradise – The Columbia River Gorge for the Melges 24 US Nationals. World Tour Stop #8.
Yup crushed it, and I love that place. Killer boats and killer scenery is always a winning combo. I then went coast to coast from Oregon to Martha’s Vineyard for some more training with Gulari/Sayre. Waking up in the vineyard and going paddle boarding every day wasn’t bad. Nice place for a little change of scenery and the closest thing I have had to a vacation in awhile…wait I still worked everyday. I would work all night with the brain set up on the porch and was greeted every morning with the wild turkeys , cute little skunks, and more spiders than I care to see. One night I was in bed watching a movie on the laptop and then there it was, a full on Mission Impossible move with a spider dropping down from the rafters and landing on my keyboard. I hate spiders, I smashed my keyboard so hard and violently in hopes of squashing him I am amazed it still works. I then went through a weeks worth of cardio in the next 20 seconds jumping out of bed…hate spiders...hate 'em.
Ok, time for some road miles. I hopped in the big rig, drove to Newport to pick up a bunch of stuff to deliver back to Michigan for a friend. Crunching the numbers it was only an hour or so out of my way so of course I would help, that’s what friends do. And no I’m still not going to cash that check!!! I drove to Harbor Springs for some Extreme 2 training, spent a day there, took some pictures, drove home to Detroit, packed up the rest of our gear, a couple of drones, and the 3D printer and headed back to the Vineyard. Like 30 hours of road time for about 24 hours of Michigan time seemed silly but it had to be done. I got back to meet up with Bora and Solvig and we drove ( I slept) to Oakcliff for their first event in the Nacra. Light breeze, not a lot of great action content but it was a productive trip for the team.
Next up was the E Scow Blue Chip. I had qualified for this regatta for the first time in my life and I was stoked to put a team on the water, although I would be still be shooting the event. Well this is where things got lame. I didn’t own an E scow anymore, what I had thought was a team with my good friend and boat partner turned into a bad situation that I wanted no part of. Somehow someone that I used to consider a friend but never invited to join the ownership became a 3rd partner in the boat and it became quite a problem. TONS of drama, and I try to avoid that like kidney stones. Again I wanted no part of this and have since found new partners that wont pull shit like that. Onward and upward.
So the Blue Chip…. I was hired to do what I normally do, although it became evident from the get go that there was something shady brewing. First, I was told I couldn’t interview sailors? Wait! What??? I obviously paid no attention to that and told them that I was going to do what I needed for my production. Next, there was constant promo of the event that neither mentioned Regatta Aerials or myself in a single email or article. Nobody even knew we were going to be there, which is ludicrous when you are trying to reach as many people as possible. I have a big following on social media and all the promotion for stuff like this helps the entire event, sponsors, club, fleet etc. Huge missed opportunity for the event organizers and it was all because the other guy made a list of insane demands. The other production team was, well, lets call him “Larry Dobson.” It seems that unbeknownst to me at the time “Larry” had made the regatta organizers sign a contract stating that no other films or videos would be promoted before, during, or after the event until his extremely well funded documentary aired. Who does that? I have to say something as it has been bugging me for some time; “Larry” clearly isn’t about fleet promotion no matter what he says. Its simple, if he was concerned about what is best for the class and sailing in general a contract stipulation limiting the class/ fleet/event organizers from promoting other productions wouldn’t exist. He was there for his paycheck and his paycheck only, which was about 10 years worth of production budget on a single 3-day event, did it grow the class? Doubtful, as “Larry’s” productions typically lack the excitement, and enthusiasm to entice younger viewers, let alone sailors. On top of it all we were required to provide “Larry” with all of the aerial footage for zero compensation. He had 55k and we had to GIVE him our footage. He then conveniently removed the credit from the broadcast version. Shady behavior from one of the supposed leaders of sailing…. I’m gunning for you “Larry” that was uncool and your actions created a high level of animosity. You need to stop pretending you are there to promote the sport. End of day we produced an amazing project covering the event, which included some of the first live commentary from a drone, I loved putting the camera down and grabbing the mic and I think it played pretty well. Before I left I had the most incredible time at a Water Park I have ever experienced, I need to do that again soon.
I left Pewaukee and went home to Tonka for a few days, we put the band back together and sailed a J-24 in the U Gotta Regatta (Tonka version) despite the mast looking like a spine with scoliosis, the winches blowing up, the spinnaker halyard getting sucked into the mast, 2 violent keel out of the water knockdowns and 1 massive collision we were mixing it up with the best of the best on the water. The blue boat was not to be denied and we were right up in everybody’s grill. Good times on Golden Pond.
October/November – Not much went on in October, I did hit up the BYC Alumni regatta, I was shooting some pics for the event organizers and then I was put on the tiller to replace a skipper that had to leave. We sailed to 6,3,1 to make it into the finals. We went off in the first race looking strong, till the boys had me sailing to the wrong mark. Had we sailed to the proper mark we would have been leading, instead we got into all the traffic and I drilled RJ Wollney and his team. Best port-starboard T bone collision I have ever had…. kinda set the pace for the rest of the finals…we never recovered from that one…Miami bound for the 2016 Worlds test event. 20 Melges 24 teams showed up on the weekend before Thanksgiving and all of them had a ball. People were so stoked to be racing 24’s on the ocean, I saw a lot of smiles on the faces of the sailors young and old, the worlds stage is set, and its going to be huge. We have been busy building the plan to make this the event of the year. DO NOT miss this one.
December – Fort Lauderdale Melges 32 US Nationals, I hopped on the Tri-Rail and left Miami bound for the Bahia Mar. I was to take pics and do the social media course updates, no budget for video, so I was kinda just there phoning it in. Sailing conditions were killer however the shooting conditions were less than ideal. It was raining a lot, like a whole lot. At the end of Saturday I was done, camera down, phone down, I was broken. In all my years of shooting on the water this was the very first time I torched a camera and that includes the time I fell through the ice with 2 cameras around my neck at the DN worlds many moons ago. The camera is getting serviced, new phone delivered, and now I’m back in Lauderdale for some C&C 30 Training on the Extreme 2. I hope it doesn’t rain like last time I was here. I am now reviewing the podcast I recorded yesterday with JC Worldwide….pretty entertaining stuff. Stay tuned.
2015 was another full year of ups and downs, High Highs and Low Lows, but I lived through it all, and met some of the best people I have ever met. 2016 is already ramping up and we are stoked to bring it all to you but in shorter installments, I promise…