By Airwaves Writer Taylor Penwell
John MacCausland is one of the best US Star sailors, crewmember aboard Dennis Connors famous Stars and Stripes Americas Cup team, lifelong Laser sailor and part owner of the Moorhouse-MacCausland Sailing based in New Jersey. John was kind enough to take on a Q&A for Sail1Design Airwaves and here is what he had to say. Enjoy!
Who is John MacCausland
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Cherry Hill, NJ.
Q: What made you want to get into sailing?
A: My father was a sailor and it was fun to race with him.
Q: What boats did you sail as a junior sailor?
A: I sailed Penguins, Moths, and Lasers.
Q: What drew you to racing?
A: I liked the competition.
Q: How did you get involved in Star sailing?
A: My father raced a Star and would crew for him at times.
Q: How many years did you chase the World Championship before winning it in 2013?
A: I sailed my first Star Worlds in 1981 with my father as my crew.
Q: What keeps you in Star sailing? A lot of new faster boats being sailed now.
A: It’s in my blood, even with all the years I have sailed the Star I learn something new each time I go sailing my Star. It is a wonderful class and I have many lifelong friends that I enjoy racing against.
Q: What do you like most about the Star Class?
A: I enjoy the challenge of making a faster boat, there are a lot of things you can do with the boat. I was very involved in the building of my Star, from the development of the keel –rudder – skeg, along with the building of my mast. I enjoy building a better mousetrap.
Q: How did you get yourself involved with the Americas Cup?
A: Through Star sailing I was friendly with Dennis Conner, he gave me a chance to try out for his crew for the 1987 Cup in Perth, Australia.
Q: Who did you sail with and what was your job on the boat?
A: I sailed on Stars and Stripes with Dennis Conner, I was the port jib trimmer.
Q: What was it like to be involved with the Americas Cup?
A: It was a full time job for 2 years of my life. We spent 1 year training in Hawaii and almost a year training and racing in Perth. It was a great experience, learning from the best. Dennis was very focused in winning the cup back, which he had lost in 1983. We were boat builders, sailmakers, sailors we all had to pitch in to accomplish the goal.
Q: What did you take away from your experience with the Americas Cup?
A: Hard work, focus and attention to detail go along way in reaching your goals. It was amazing how much work Dennis Connor put into his quest to win the cup back. He taught me that hard work and dedication are the way to accomplish your goals.
Q: How long have you been sailing Lasers?
A: My father bought me my first new Laser in 1972 it’s number was 852. I was 11 years old, way back then there was not Radial rigs or 4.7 rigs, needless to say a full Rig Laser is a big boat for an 11 year old!
Q: You still race Lasers competitively in the Masters Class, what accomplishments have you gotten in the class and what keeps you sailing the Laser?
A: I have won the Master Mid-winters twice and many district championships. I sail the Laser for many reasons, first of all it keeps me in shape, and second it translates to Star sailing very well. It’s easy to find big fleets to race with. Just like the Star it’s in my blood.
Q: Why did you start M&M sailing?
A: October 2011 I purchased Moorhouse Sailmakers which became Moorhouse MacCausland Sailing. The reason for this was after 25 years working for my father in Marine Spars our company that was the go place to buy any Star boat part you could imagine was closing. So I wanted to stay in the marine industry Moorhouse Sailmakers were a natural fit.
Q: How does it feel to have your work life connected to your favorite sport sailing?
A: To be honest I know no other way of life. From the time I left school to know this is all I have known. I feel very fortunate to have lived the life I have.
Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to improve his or her racing?
A: Learn how to start well and make whatever boat you race go fast. Speed Kills!!!
Q: What in your mind is the most important thing or things to consider when racing or campaigning for something like the Star Worlds or any other large goal.
A: Preparation is key. I always like to take all the variables away that I can before I even reach the race course. Your body needs to be physically prepared for the task at hand. You have to have the best boat that will not break down. You have to have the proper sails for the conditions you are going to race in and know how to use them. Then you are ready to handle what mother nature throws at you on the race course.
Q: Where do you see the sport of sailing going in the next twenty years?
A: In my lifetime I’ve seen sailing become more and more professional, more coaching and support. At the top end I think this will continue to go in this direction. This is a hard question to answer, I think a lot will change of the next 20 years. There are too many boats to choose from, which makes for small numbers in each class. I guess each area will have it’s own favorite class. Also midweek sailing is becoming very popular, with people having less and less time I could see this growing also.
Q: When you are not sailing or working what else do you like to do? What are your other hobbies?
A: Cycling, which is great exercise for sailing, also I enjoying hiking along the way I have climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa. I ski when I can. I enjoy the outdoors as you can see.
By Airwaves Writer Taylor Penwell