Ed Baird: "We both are trying to achieve the same thing, just doing it in different ways"
We have learned how Vasco Vascotto views Ed Baird, but how does Ed feel about Vasco? Here is the second part of the interview. Part 1 you can find here. Enjoy!
Ed, it was interesting to hear about you from Vasco Vascotto, your best friend, and your enemy on the water!
Constant competitor! (laughs)
Yes! So now, it is your turn. What was the first boat you sailed in your life?
My father had a 26-foot keel boat when I was really young, like 3-4 years old. When we would go sail on this boat and whenever the sails would go up and the boat would heel over, I would cry. My father said I would never be a sailor because I was not happy when the boat would lean over. But later I took lessons in the Opti when I was nine.
So you started with your father on the big boat?
Yes, on the cruising boat, as just a little kid.
What was the first regatta you remember winning? How was it?
Well, my first event in the Optimist. Everyone I sailed with through the summer, other kids, said: "Oh you should come, it will be fun, you’ll do good". I went and I did really badly! The day was finished and I was putting away my boat. Suddenly, one of my friends came running to me and said "Come, you have to come! They are giving you the trophy!" and I was like "For what?" So I came with him to the awards and they gave me a trophy because I was the first nine-year-old. Everyone else was like ten, eleven, twelve or thirteen years old. I was nine, and I think in the event there was only one another nine-year-old. That was my first trophy. After that, I do not really know what the first was. Something like a club championship, or something like that.
Do you remember the first time you met Vasco Vascotto?
I do not remember the first time. After several keel boat events in Europe you just starting to know that the guy over there is very excited and making a lot of noise and “oh it’s that Vasco guy, okay” (laughs). But I don’t remember when exactly. It would be you know, 20 years ago, so…
Don't you remember the class or anything?
No, no, I’m sure maybe it was Sardinia Cup or 50-foot IOR boats or something, but it was a long time ago.
How do you plan the regatta and races? What do you think of how Vasco is doing that?
I think we are very similar in a way that we try to plan accordingly to the abilities of our owner and of the team. However, we are different, because he plans in a way I think is more risky. He wants to start by the pin, and then sail fast to the left side because the owner does not have to look at any other boats. I tend to start on the other end of the line, and if we need to tack then we do not have to go behind lots of people. I think if you working with the newer team, especially newer driver, who is not very experienced at the high level, that takes the more conservative approach that you can execute every time. You not going to finish first immediately, but you will avoid finishing in the very bottom, even if you take this approach. Vasco likes to come into the challenging situations and try to negotiate his way out of trouble. And I try to avoid difficult situations and then I don’t have to negotiate (laughs). In that way we are different. But we both are trying to achieve the same thing, which is to put our owners in a place where they have a good chance to finish well, and if everything goes nicely, sometimes we can win.
Our last question was a bit difficult for Vasco. Now you turn. Imagine you are the coach of Vasco. What would you like to tell him before the race, the regatta?
You know, everyone appreciates his passion and his energy, and he is always thinking and planning how to improve. When he makes a mistake, he gets very angry with himself. Sometimes it makes all of the people around him feel a little scared or nervous because he is so angry with himself. Maybe, if he remembers that what he does within a team impacts everyone… that is important. But his ways and his style fit with the teams he races with. He sails with people who respond to his energy and his excitement, and that means he is doing it right. For me, if we sail together, there would be an explosion. Not because he is thinking about the wrong thing or anything like that, I just do not surround myself with that much excitement, or that kind of energy. Energy - yes, but it is a different kind, it is a quiet energy. I am always thinking, always paying attention to what is happening, but when I get upset – it is inside. I do not get upset a lot, and I know it is not helping to be outward with my anger or frustration. It is hard to take someone so successful like Vasco and say, "You need to change" you know. Obviously, it is how he is. And if we did not have Vasco I know, my wife would be much less interested in sports sailing (laughs). She is always asking "What happened with Vasco? How did Vasco do?" And it’s not because he is a GQ model, but because he is exciting and energetic and he is always in the mix, always in the top group.