BOSTON (#1114) – The sailing community never really got to know Paul Allen (USA, accompanying photo courtesy of KOMO-TV) who died yesterday. Mr Allen, of course, was the co-founder with Bill Gates of Microsoft. With that self-made wealth he pursued his passions for oceanography, aviation, philanthropy, music, art, music and sports – including owning the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers of the NBA.
In 2003, Mr Allen and cell phone pioneer Craig McCaw (USA) teamed up to sponsor the One World Challenge for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's second America’s Cup defense in Auckland. The name derived from the sponsors’ desire to draw attention to the global environment. They washed the boat with captured rainwater; the crew planted trees on Rangitoto to offset the carbon imprint of the event. They were refreshing, positive and upbeat. Some said naive.
It did not end well. In common with recent America’s Cups, protest flags, then lawsuits, flew. One World was accused of buying or stealing designs from Team New Zealand. Regardless, the boat did not go particularly well. McCaw and Allen’s verdict was succinct. If they had had any idea that they were not getting into a friendly sporting competition, they would have saved their money, of which they both had an abundance.
Paul Allen was a visionary and philanthropist in many areas, notably including the sea. His charities supported work to end plastic pollution long before it became fashionable; the de-acidification of Puget Sound; the protection and restoration of coral reefs; and the accurate tabulation of commercial fishing catches. His exploration yacht PETREL recovered the ship’s bell of HMS HOOD, which rests in the Royal Navy Museum at Portsmouth (GBR). His team discovered the wrecks of the Japanese super battleship MUSASHI, the USS LEXINGTON at the bottom of the Coral Sea, and the USS INDIANAPOLIS, which had transported the first atomic bomb, among others.
So, while Mr Allen did not make it to the pinnacle of sailing, he played at the top of the game, as he did in all the endeavors he undertook. He loved the sea in all its aspects. Paul Allen, a genius and true original, dead at age 65, and way too soon. May he rest in peace.
About the author: When not advising investment houses – the G.W. Carmany Co. specializes in the health care industry – or tending to his duties as the longest-serving trustee of Bentley University (Waltham, MA, USA), George Carmany gravitates back to the sea. Mr Carmany grew up by the sea. With a family in the resort hotel business in New York (Westhampton Beach on Long Island) and Florida (Delray Beach), he recalls being “on the water pretty much my whole life.” He is a life-long racing sailor who is a former commodore of the Shinnecock Yacht Club, a longtime member of New York Yacht Club's America’s Cup Committee, and was one of NYYC's longest-serving trustees in the club's nearly 175-year history. A few years back Mr Carmany sold his NY40 HORNET, but he still charters large race boats, ever savoring the sensation of “going faster than the boat next to, or preferably behind, us.” –TFE