Friday, June 2, 2023

Olympian and America’s Cup Campaigner Drops Anchor in Coronado

Back in the early 1990s the sailing set in Coronado was all a twitter about the Kiwis — the young men from New Zealand who had come here to challenge for the America’s cup.

A member of that team, Peter Evens, is now a local. And has more than a few fond memories of his early days here.

“It was a hard job, but a fun time,” he said.

“We lived at Oakwood (now the Bay Club). “You can still see the bare bones of the jetty we built on a strip of land next to the condominiums,” he said. There is a signed photo of the team at the Coronado Yacht Club.

While training for the cup challenge, he also met his wife Jackie. She was living here with her sister, who was in the Navy at the time. They wed in 1994 and have two daughters ages 8 and 13.

Evens would eventually race in six America’s cup campaigns – three for New Zealand, one for Japan and two for Switzerland; three Olympics (1984, 1988, and 1996), and numerous other international sailing events in more that 20 countries around the world.

He began his career at a yacht club in his hometown of Devonport, a seaside suburb of Auckland, New Zealand.

“I was a member of a street club and a few of the kids got started sailing at the local marina,” he said.

Evans soon joined them and discovered he loved the sport. He went on to win a number of national competitions, which helped launch his professional career.

He is not from a sailing family. His father was a carpenter, his mother a homemaker.

“In New Zealand sailing has always been very accessible to the majority of people” he said. “There’s lots of very small yacht clubs that are inexpensive to join and have a bunch of home-grown dinghies to sail, so there are opportunities for people of all backgrounds.”

At 52 Evans is racing less, but still participates in a few regattas a year. He spends some of his spare time playing golf, and some SUP (stand-up paddle) boarding with his rescue dog Roxy. Recently he has taken up mountain biking and woodworking.

What he relishes most is the time he spends with wife and daughters. With professional sailing, “there is so much travel and so much time spent away from home,” he said

When the day comes that he does retire he’ll do so with few regrets. “It’s been fantastic for me,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to live in New Zealand, Europe, Japan and the Middle East, sailing with some of the best sailors in the world.”

Looking back he knows that he’ll miss the camaraderie of sailing and the pleasure of “working with a real purpose.”

It’s one he would recommend with the proviso that they get a “good education just to keep as many doors as possible open.”

“Like any professional sport only a very few get to the top level where there is a career in it,” he said. For that “you need to be every passionate about it, work really hard at it and have a dose of good luck to get the right opportunities.”

Gloria Tierney
Gloria Tierney
A freelance writer in San Diego for more than 30 years. She has written for a number of national and international newspapers, including the Times of London, San Diego Tribune, Sierra Magazine, Reuters News Service and Patch.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]