This article originally appeared on North Sails News – August 30, 2019
Nicolas Popp has a day job in tech and is not a professional sailor, but he says he started preparing his boat Invictus, a SunFast 3600, for the 2019 Rolex Big Boat Series as soon as the 2018 regatta ended. “We never stop in San Francisco, that’s the beauty,” he says.
“We” is Nico and boat partner Jacques Benkoski. “I call him my girlfriend,” Nico jokes, “because right after I call my wife I call him next to ask, ‘When are we going to go sailing?’”
Like many San Francisco Bay sailors, winning the Big Boat Series is an important goal for Nico. “Even if it takes fifteen years, we’re going to keep at it. It’s the grail for us.” His team has been sailing together for a long time, but last year they brought North Sails expert Seadon Wijsen onboard as a coach to help them improve. “We needed a coach to take us to the next level—make us work better together, and maybe be more silent on the boat!” Nico laughs. “Everybody on the boat loves Seadon, and his coaching has made a tremendous difference, even now when we sail without him.”
Once they recognized their improvement, the team recruited North Sails Brian Janney to sail on Invictus for this season. As Nico puts it, “We thought, ‘My goodness, it’s truly important.’ And then we noticed the other guys also had somebody to help! So we figure, ‘Let’s do that, because we’ll get better.’ It’s still a long roadway to go towards perfection, but the pace of improvement just accelerated.”