Islander juggles successful career as sailor, author and designer
Last week Jamestown resident Carol Cronin moved her Herreshoff Marlin to Wickford in preparation for Hurricane Irene. With her own boat safely tucked away, the world-class competitive sailor headed to Rochester, N.Y., to participate in the Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship, an event that she has already won in the past.
“I’ve only missed one since 1991,” Cronin said. She added that she started off crewing for other people, and won the event in 1999 with Pat Connerney from Middletown. Cronin started steering her own boat in 2001 and finished second. In 2003 she finished third and then in 2005 she finished fourth. “So I decided to take 2007 off,” she said. “I came back in 2009 and finished third again. I hope we can do well this week.”
The International Women’s Keelboat Championship has been held every two years since its origins in Newport in 1985. The one-design regatta was sailed in J-24s until 1999. Looking for a fresh venue, the organizers moved the regatta to Annapolis, Md., in 2001, and changed the fleet to J- 22s with a crew of four. Since that time the championship has been held in Houston, Texas, and Rochester.
“The idea is that it’s a good fleet-builder and a good promoter of women’s sailing wherever it ends up,” Cronin said. “It’s a big event, so there are only a few places in the country that can do a really good job with it. This is the second time in Rochester.”
Cronin admitted that she doesn’t own her own J-22, but is lucky enough to have a good friend, Margaret Podlich from Annapolis, who does.
“She likes sailing with me better than she likes steering so this will be our first time sailing on her boat at the event,” Cronin said. “We sailed together the last time in 2009, but we borrowed a boat for that.”
Cronin, like many elite sailors, started young. She began sailing with her parents when she was 10 years old. “I grew up with them racing on bigger boats, then I started sailing smaller boats in college and thereafter,” she said.
In 2004, Cronin was a member of the U.S. Sailing Team at the Athens Olympics. She said that she began sailing seriously on the international level in the early 1990s.
“I started getting involved with match racing, which at that point looked like it was going to be a new level for the 2000 games,” she said. “I got involved with a new team, but that fell through but it introduced me to the idea of doing my own campaign. When the Yngling was introduced for 2004, I decided to do my own campaign.”
(The Yngling is a class of sailboats.)
Cronin looks back fondly on her Olympics. “It was an incredible experience. We won a very competitive U.S. trials against five other boats. That in itself was incredible.”
Cronin said that she trained hard that spring and into the summer before the Athens Olympics. “We got to Athens feeling very well prepared for what we expected to be a light air regatta,” she said, “and had two days of the strongest breeze I had ever sailed in. That unfortunately cost us a medal. We did win two races and had an incredible experience representing our country and experiencing the Olympics, which is like nothing else.”
In addition to her impressive sailing resume, Cronin has a career as a fiction author, and she incorporates her sailing adventures into her stories. “It’s been really fun,” she said. “It gives me a chance to share my sailing experiences with other people but not have to relive them as exactly as they were.”
Cronin’s first two books are particularly timely this week. “Oliver’s Surprise” follows the adventures a 12-year-old sailor who is transported back in time to the Great Hurricane of 1938. In “Cape Cod Surprise,” Oliver goes back in time again, this time to Hurricane Carol in 1954. Both books are available for sale at the Conanicut Marine Services store, Baker’s Pharmacy and Jamestown Design.
“Game of Sails” is Cronin’s latest book, and this time out she opted to publish the work as an ebook. “That just came out in early July,” she said. “It’s an Olympic love story, so it’s based on my Olympic experiences.”
Publishing an ebook for the first time has been rewarding for Cronin. She said that it has been an educational experience learning about the publishing industry, which she said is in a huge flux.
“I published it totally as an experiment as an ebook but also partially to assert my to ability to retail as an author,” she said. “It’s really exciting to be able to get my story out there to people who enjoy it and get feedback.”
She said that she has already had people telling her that they read and enjoyed the book. “I had a competitor at a regatta about 10 days later who accused me of timing it so that she was kept up late reading it all week,” Cronin said. “It’s really exciting sharing stories with people in such a direct way.”
The “Game of Sails” ebook can be downloaded through Cronin’s website: www.carolnewmancro nin.com.
There are more books in Cronin’s future, but she said that she has to wind down her summer sailing before she can get ready for writing this fall. “I’m looking forward to that,” she said.
Before Cronin gets back to writing, she will be competing in the Snipe North Americans, which takes place in San Diego in late September. She recently returned from competing in the Snipe Worlds in Denmark.
“The Snipe is the boat that I’ve been sailing the most for the last few years,” she said. “We got home about 10 days ago. I’m a little travel weary at this point but even though the schedule is tight it’s just too much fun to miss.”
As if being an elite level sailor and a respected author isn’t enough, Cronin has her own graphic design business in Jamestown, Live Wire Designs Unlimited.
“I do a variety of stuff exclusively for the marine industry,” Cronin said. “It’s great because I get to play with pictures of boats all day long. It’s a really nice flexible way to incorporate my knowledge of sailing with my knowledge of graphic design and writing.”