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Scuttlebutt News: Ian Williams

Williams takes a seat in the Scuttlebutt Saloon and chats up Farr 40 sailing, the Match Race tour, and his passion for Monopoly

(March 21, 2007) There is no shortage of British sailing news, and the rise of Ian Williams continues this trend. Rather than running from this UK stampede, we thought we'd pour him a virtual pint and check in. Heck, he was sailing with an American team at the Acura Miami Grand Prix, and has American Bill Hardesty (1998 College Sailor of the Year) on his match race team, so maybe he won't bite. He didn't - read on.

  • At Acura Miami Grand Prix, you were the tactician on the winning Farr 40 ‘Warpath’ - a team you had not sailed with before. They had a rough go at Key West Race Week (14 out of 17), so how many minutes do you figure you had to gain their confidence?

  • I was quite apprehensive going into it, as I had not sailed with any of the guys onboard before, and I hadn’t sailed a Farr 40 since 2001. But it was a great team already with brilliant leaders like Dave Armitage already onboard. So I just tried to fit into the team and do a good job of the tactics. Due to various twists of fete, we did not get any meaningful race practice before the regatta and that made for a fairly tough first day (finishes were 4-10-13). When I cocked up I took responsibility for those cock-ups, and I think the guys appreciated that. They continued to back me (and in the case of John Glueck, help out with some of the calls) and I’d like to think I repaid that faith with some good, bold calls in the last 3 days (finishes were 1-3-4-1-2-5).

    Some people’s leadership style is to force others to perform through fear/ aggression. Some leaders take on a more positive motivational style in order to dominate a team. My style, whether it is match racing or sailing on a Farr 40, is to create an atmosphere that empowers individuals to step up themselves. On 'Warpath' in Miami, there were a number of guys on the boat who really stood up to be counted.

  • You are the most prominent guy on the world match racing tour who is not affiliated with an America's Cup team. Do you ever wish you had their schwag?
  • click to enlarge
    Winning the Marseille International Match Race 2007

    In the past it has been hard to compete with their resources, particularly in terms of getting together a consistent, strong team. Also, they have always had a jump on getting invites for high profile events. Now with Pindar and Capita Symonds as sponsors, I have a committed and consistent team so I do not feel at any disadvantage. As leader of the world match race tour and soon to be top of the ISAF rankings, invites are also not such a problem now!

  • The match race tour seems to be the model of the sailing rock star life. Plane tix, boat waiting at the dock, great racing. What are some of the other cool perks?

  • We go to fantastic venues and sail close to the shore, so the views are often spectacular. You just need to look at the list of world tour venues to realise we get to go to some pretty top ten places. The other main perk is that it turns you into a very versatile sailor, as you have to learn to sail lots of different boats in a short space of time.

  • What’s with the spikey hair?

  • Photo: Guilain Grenier/

    It just grows that way

  • Darts or Pool?

  • Pool, although I have noticed a steep decline in my standard of pool playing recently – it seems to be inversely proportional to my sailing (something to do with less time in the pub I expect).

  • Besides sailing, you are most competitive in what?

  • Monopoly – I hate losing in monopoly.

  • The music starts thumping and the gal wants to dance. Are you the first on the floor, want a decent crowd, or seeking shelter?
  • I’m pretty wooden on the dance floor – but can normally be coaxed up there given the right gal!

  • Where will Scuttlebutt find you next?

  • Skiing in Verbier, Switzerland.

    Not on our budget, but thanks for the update. For more on Ian Williams, go to his website at

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