Willie McBride

Son Of A Son Of A Sailor


Granny sailing

Before I was born, Dad worked on a fishing boat in the Santa Barbara Harbor, and lived on a sail boat on marina 1. By the time we moved off of the Oso Bueno, he had lived on a boat for almost 14 years, Mom had lived there for 10 of them, and I could claim almost 3 years of harbor life. After we moved off of the boat, it was several years before I found my way back, but I was never far from the water. I spent every summer at the beach, boogie boarding, building mud-balls and sand fortresses, and flying kites. When I was 10, a friend asked me to come sailing at our local club called the “Sea Shells”, where parent volunteers ran races every Sunday, and I quickly made a group of friends who made Sundays a highlight of each week.
It wasn’t until years after I first learned to race that I found out about my Granny’s sailing history, as one of the top snipe sailors in the state of New York. Her passion for the water, and her love for the sport of sailing has been passed down through my dad to me, so you could say that I have sailing in my blood.

Back In The Boat
My high school experience was a series of boat work, fundraising efforts, sailing practices, and workouts, punctuated here and there by regattas and incredible life experiences. I lived for the time that I spent on the water, and I worked hard in school just so that I could get to the dock more quickly. I relished the time that I spent looking into the wind, trying to solve the impossible puzzle that is sail boat racing. On the water, all of the distractions seemed to fade away, and all that mattered was the boat, the wind, and the waves. When I graduated from high school, my sailing suddenly came to an abrupt halt.

For the last several years I have coached many junior sailors to very high levels, I have directed a sailing program, and I have even managed to get on the water a fair bit, but it has been several years since I have had a program to call my own. Teaming up with Dane is very exciting for me, because I feel like I am once again controlling my own destiny. We set the training schedule, we work through the logistical challenges; we directly control our own improvement. I think that the Olympics is the ultimate puzzle; with less than 3 years left now until the start of the Olympics, Dane and I will need to devise a strategy to overcome a lot of obstacles. We may not have the most resources of any of the US teams, we may not have the same caliber equipment, and we may not even have as much time in the boat at this point, but we are very focused. We have a lot of work to do, and the path ahead is a challenging one, but at the end of the day, we will step back in the boat, and everything else will fade into the background.

For me, sailing is an incredible way to experience the world.  No matter how many hundreds of hours I log on the water, every time we push off of the dock, a new adventure, and a new set of experiences awaits.  While I seem to end up spending most of my time on the water coaching or sailing, I try to apply these same ideas to life off of the water.  Check out the photos below to see some of my other adventures.


Sunset paddle boarding in Santa Barbara


Early morning waterfall at Zion National Park


Pictures at the beach with my brother, Davey


Exploring the bottom at the islands


Backpacking with my adventurous girlfriend, Kim