In 2010 the stakes were raised. The “trench” was straightened to allow for faster runs, but at the expense of a proper slow-down phase. For Douglas, it was an opportunity to take back what was his, albeit with increased risk.
Douglas made history on October 28, 2010, during the Luderitz Speed Challenge with a blistering run of 55.65 knots, eclipsing the existing world record. Given the chance of an initial inaccurate reading, Douglas opted to take a second run to help consolidate his standings. While this didn’t yield a new record, it ended in infamy when he wrecked at 50-plus knots, breaking his wrist. “Crashing in the trench is serious,” reflects Douglas. “It’s fine if you bounce and skip, but you want to avoid coming to a full stop quickly.” Douglas reluctantly returned to Boston for orthopedic surgery, apprehensive about whether his record would stand. Fortunately, the surgery went well; even better was the news from Namibia: the world record was still his, despite serious challenges.
Back on the Vineyard, life resumes a comfortable rhythm. Douglas’s job as the CEO of The Black Dog Tavern allows him to work with one eye towards the sea—just like his father—and his evenings are enjoyed at home with his wife. For Douglas, this is a fine outcome to an even finer scenario. Given his fiercely competitive nature, he knows he’ll be prepared for Luderitz this fall. But, far more importantly, he also knows that he has already accomplished his goal. “To have grown up on the Vineyard, with a father who placed such a strong emphasis on sailing,” reflects Douglas, “to inject the Douglas name into sailing’s history, is a unique thing.”
David Schmidt is the editor of SAIL-World.com/USA, editor-at-large at SAIL magazine, and is the owner of Alembic Media, LLC. He lives in Seattle, Washington.