Last week was Kimo's birthday. We called to say Happy Birthday, to which Kimo responded, "Did you know I sailed my first 21 day race from Tahiti to LA when I was 16 years old. I can't believe I've been doing this for so long!"
Kimo has a rare combination of leadership expertise, both onshore and on the water. His resume is highlighted by six America's Cups, and more than 80,000 miles of ocean racing. In the 1997-98 Whitbread Around the World Race, he was watch captain and sailing team manager for the winning EF Language team. After completing the around the world race, it is not uncommon for sailors to bluff: "I will never, ever do this race again," Kimo set himself apart and stuck to his word. His next big project was managing the shore side operations for Pirates of the Caribbean(2005-06) and then of course his current program, PUMA Ocean Racing.
Starting at a young age, Kimo logged more miles by the age of 18 than most people do in a lifetime. After graduating high school, Kimo set off for a delivery from Mexico to Buenos Aires, on a 73 foot boat with a crew of four. "Looking back, it does seems crazy," said Kimo, "But that's just how it was, there were only four people available, so we did the delivery with a small crew." From Buenos Aires, it was onto Miami, where he had the chance to sail with Russell Long, and in the summer of 1979, Kimo was called up to Newport to start adding America's Cup sailing to his resume.
Kimo joined the crew on Clipper, working the bow in the 1980 America’s Cup.After a short break to campaign a Finn for the '84 Olympic trails, he sailed on Eagle for the '86 Cup in Freemantel, Australia as a mainsheet trimmer.
Kimo's next few years were spent as a boat captain running the 46 foot IOR racer Pendragon, in addition to skippering in the Admiral's Cup- in 1989 on Sagacious and again in 1991 for Champosa. Then came the call to join the A3 campaign as a "jack of all trades," as he describes it, "I did everything as alternate helmsman, tactician, crew boss, boat captain and mainsheet trimmer. Basically, my job was to keep the 75 guys together." When Bill Koch was putting together his 1995 all women's America’s Cup team, A3, Kimo was a natural fit for the operations role – serving as coach and manager of the sailing team.
From America's Cup to Around the World racing, Kimo was called in 1996 by Paul Cayard to join the EF Language team as a watch captian. This role demanded sailing expertise as well as management and leadership support. "We won the race, I thought job done, enough of that. Around the World sailing is a tough deal," said Kimo.
And as they say the rest is history. This is Kimo's second Volvo campaign with PUMA. To simply sum up Kimo's role is impossible. There are big jobs like budgets, sailing and shore team management and logistics that are obvious to everyone, but Kimo's job is much more than that. What many people never get to see is the behind the scenes projects that Kimo is involved in, including our boat graphics- no easy task when you're working with PUMA.
And for Kimo, being on the shore side of project is a perfect fit. "I've done offshore sailing, I've done inshore sailing. I like the idea of Around the World racing, but I'd rather not be out there anymore. These races take a special type of person. There is a good crop of younger and stronger guys in the sport. If needed, I'd do a leg or two, but there is enough talent out there to go and grab."