Sailor Spotligh: Peter Hurley
SHABANG! It's Peter Hurley, this week's Sailor Spotlight. Peter Hurley is one of the most interesting sailors from the Barnegat Bay area. He grew up sailing at Mantoloking YC, and with his natural talent and a lot of hard work, he quickly became one of the best Laser sailors in the WORLD. After many years off to start a family and a business (now he's one of the best photographers in the WORLD), he's back to Laser sailing and kicking butt. Peter is outgoing, friendly, makes you feel good about yourself, and talented in so many ways. He's a people-person and a trend-setter. Peter Hurley ROCKS!
Name: Peter Hurley
School: Boston University
Yacht Club: Mantoloking Yacht Club
1) Peter, you grew up sailing at Mantoloking Yacht Club. What was your junior sailing career like and what lead you to love the sport so much? I really have to credit my dad for introducing me to the sport I love so much. He threw me in a duckboat early around the age of 6, and I've never looked back. I couldn’t wait to get back to the shore each summer for the start of the sailing program at Mantoloking. The encouragement I received from my instructors really made a difference in keeping my interest in it going. Paul Magno and Matt Sullivan were instrumental in motivating me to be the best I could be at a young age.
2) So in the late 90s and early 2000s you were one of the best Laser sailors in the US and World. Then you took a break for a while. Now you're back and sailing your Laser more than ever. Why the comeback? What goals do you have now and how is Laser sailing impacting your life? For those that don’t know, the Laser has "Master Events" where you race against others your age after turning 35. Every ten years you age out into a new category. At age 35 I was knee-deep in running my business while raising a family, and it was difficult to travel let alone stay fit for the demands of the Laser. By 45 I was terribly out of shape, had a pinched nerve in my neck as a result of my photography career and hadn’t sailed a Laser in years. With the help of my trainer, Joel Harper, I made a goal to get back to my old Laser weight of 185 and compete in the Master World Championship in Kingston, Ontario, that summer. On January 1st of 2015 I weighed in at 230 lbs and gave myself until the first day of racing on July 12th to hit my goal weight. I did just that and to my surprise I finished 2nd at the event, and I was hooked. Not only did it reignite my passion for the sport, but I became acutely aware of how important my health is to me. I’ve been competing ever since and have kept myself in pretty good shape the entire time. I finished 2nd once again last year in Split, Croatia, and I’ve been putting more effort into my training this year in order to hit my goal of becoming a Laser World Master Champion in Dublin this September.
3) Speaking of sailing more Laser events, over the weekend you won the Laser District 10 Championship at Shore Acres Yacht Club. Congratulations! Tell me about the event.
I was looking forward to the regatta, and I was excited to get back to racing on Barnegat Bay and try to defend my title from last year. We had a tricky 10-12 knot NE breeze, and I had some issues figuring it out the first race, finishing in 8th place. Matt Goetting got out to an early lead with two bullets right off the bat. He gave me a serious run for my money last year, so I knew I had to quickly step it up. I was able to get in a few decent races and found myself sitting in 3rd place behind Matt and the 2016 D10 Champ, Andrew Puopolo, going into Sunday’s
racing. On Sunday the breeze was holding steady at 15 knots, and I found my stride as I was able to use my downwind speed to win the first two races. It was who beat who going into the last race between Andrew and I. Luckily I got off to a nice start and was able to keep him pinned left until I tacked, and we came reaching in full speed on the port lay-line to the windward mark. Matt was coming in on the starboard lay-line, and I was able to just punch through past his bow and get around the mark in first place. Andrew wasn’t able to make the turn and ended up getting tangled up and pinwheeling around with Matt as I sailed away down the run securing the win! District 10 Results
4) You've done more international sailing than most people in our area. What is the difference between sailing internationally? Is there a difference? Why travel outside of Barnegat Bay? If you want to compete on the world stage you’ve got to sail against the best. I think you can get caught up in a perceived pecking order of some sort sailing against the same people all the time. I always made the biggest strides in my career sailing at the international events. I feel that stiffer competition evens the playing field a bit and the margins for error are greatly reduced. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I always felt a sense of confidence when there was more talent in the field and I was in foreign territory. Who knows, maybe it was just having those three letters on my sail knowing that I was there to represent the best country in the world that lit a fire under me. If you haven’t felt that feeling yet then I suggest you find an international regatta in your chosen class and set a goal to get yourself to be there.
5) You are one of the best photographers in the WORLD, and you've made your living taking and teaching the art of the headshot photograph. Why did you choose to become a photographer? Can you give our readers one free tip for taking a better picture?
Ha! Long story short Polo wanted real sailors for an ad campaign they were running. It got me into modeling and through that I picked up a camera. I never thought my work would be recognized around the world, but it’s now given me the ability to work anywhere. My schedule is now built around my regattas, and I don’t plan on letting up on my Laser sailing anytime soon. I’ll give you more than one tip. Check my my NY Times article that ran a few weeks ago in the magazine: NY TIMES ARTICLE