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Eric Ardnt, Samba's Lab Loving Boat Manger


  • Eric Arndt, Samba's Lab Loving Boat Manager

    Michelle Slade of crafted thi nice interview of yet another on of the SF Bay' unsung superstars,
    Marin Counties Eric Arndt (no relation to L-38's John Arndt)

    Visions of his two pups, Izzy and Sarah swimming next to Samba during extended tiller time during the
    2008 Pineapple Cup, were an indicator to Eric that his time off watch was way overdue.
    photo © Michelle Slade/Sailblast

    Eric Arndt figured he’d probably been on watch too long when one very stormy night off the coast of Cuba he looked over the side of Samba Pa Ti, the Transpac 52 he was racing on, and saw his two dogs swimming beside the boat - his black lab Izzy and yellow lab Sarah.

    It was a full moon with heavy cloud cover but every now and then, the moonlight would shine through and spotlight his furry mates. It was windy and blowing about thirty, nonetheless, there they were.

    “It was surreal, it freaked me out as they were so real,” Arndt said. “But, when you’re tired, you start seeing things out there.”

    He was racing in the 2008 Pineapple Cup with Stu Bannatyne driving, and Mike Howard and a couple of the other guys on deck.

    “We had minimal crew - perhaps 8 - although we did have the top guys - Nick White navigating, Dee Smith, Frankie Howard - but we were doing a weird rotation, like 4 hours on and 3 off. It was a situation where all hands were required on deck. I was trimming main and had been on watch for perhaps 7 hours - we did cover 221 miles in 11 hours,” Arndt recalled. “I must have been hallucinating but seeing my dogs swimming was just so vivid.”

    Arndt could have chosen any one of the many memorable and spectacular moments in his long career as a high point, like winning two world championships back to back when he was 22, or winning the Mumm 36 Worlds with John Kostecki on Thomas I Punk in 1996, but "seeing" his dogs was an experience he’ll never forget - the kind that comes from the exhilaration of racing with the best, and that all-out exhaustion that’s a part of racing at the highest levels.

    "So began his boat captain career. He did everything from build the boat to organize crew flights, accommodation and practice. “LOL - it was a big deal!” Arndt laughs now at how chaotic the job was.

    Mainsheet trimming and speed control has always been his “thing”. “Typically you want the guy responsible for rig set up and tune in the most important position - the main sail,” Arndt explained. “I trimmed main on all the Sambas for about eleven years.”

    And, it probably wasn’t just skill that won them the1999 Farr 40 Worlds in San Francisco, but also well-honed local knowledge with Kostecki as tactician, Arndt was main trimmer, and Hogan Beattie on the bow.

    Arndt recalls that a lot of changes occurred quickly in the Farr 40 fleet, and then Kilroy took a break, “He was burned out,” Arndt said, “He put me on a retainer and told me I could go work for whoever I wanted.”

    He went to work for Philippe Kahn for two years, and did a stint with Cayard on the Pirates of the Caribbean with Kimo Worthington. “That was fun because Johnny Depp was involved. We hung out together and he was the most down to earth guy I’ve ever met - a good dude.”

    Arndt worked on the Pegasus TP 52, won Transpac and won the TP 52 Worlds with Ken Read as tactician. Kilroy decided to buy the Samba TP 52 in 2006, and that just started another roll, Arndt recalled. “As boat captain, I was juggling a lot of different hats.”

    If you ask Arndt what his favorite boat to race on is, he’ll tell you it was probably the Farr 40 in its hey day. “It was a very good windward leeward boat but not really good off-shore and reaching. But, the competition back in 2000 to 2008 was fantastic - you’d get 40 boats on the line and everybody had a chance to win.”

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