Spotlight on: Erik Brockmann, skipper of Team Extreme México
As the Extreme Sailing Series™ made its debut in Mexico this week in Los Cabos, Team Extreme México has made history as the first-ever Mexican team with the first-ever Mexican sailors on board in the 11-years of the Series.
The local wildcard is skippered by Erik Brockmann, a J70 world champion once ranked top 10 in the world in the Optimist, who is delighted to see the ultimate Stadium Racing championship visit his country.
“It’s amazing to be competing here,” said Brockmann, who sails this event alongside fellow Mexicans Danel Belausteguigoitia and Armando Noriega. “When I first heard the Extreme Sailing Series was coming to Los Cabos, I was like ‘wow’.”
Born in Mexico City sailing was not available on his doorstep, but his hard work and dedication since his first regatta at the age of five has seen him become successful in the sport that he loves.
“Here in Mexico there is not a lot of professional sailing so it’s hard to become a professional unless you move away. So that’s a challenging thing here,” explained Brockmann.
“There is a lake that is about an hour and a half drive from my home, and then we have Acapulco which is a four-hour drive, so we’re used to getting in the car after work or after school on Friday and going for the weekend sailing.”
Brockmann, who has clocked up an impressive 25,000 miles of offshore racing, including six Transpac (Transpacific Yacht Race) campaigns, has big ambitions and is driven in his mission to grow the sport of sailing in Mexico.
“After not making it for this Volvo Ocean Race I will do anything I can to be there next edition and hopefully one day with a Mexican team. There has only been one Mexican entry which won in 1973 [Sayula II] so I definitely want to bring the country back one day.
“Sometimes I can’t sleep because I am thinking ‘I have to do something else in the sailing world’, and ‘I have to find those opportunities’; the Extreme Sailing Series is a great example,” he added.
Descended from a long line of sailors, Brockmann was introduced to the sport at a young age.
“I fell in love with sailing when I was five years old. I’m very competitive in other sports as well but sailing has always been my main sport.
“One thing I have always enjoyed about sailing is that, even if you are an amateur, you get to sail against the top sailors in the world. That’s not something you can say about most other sports. You wouldn’t be able to play tennis against Roger Federer but in sailing you do get this opportunity and sometimes you are right there in the fight, so that’s one of the things I enjoy the most about the sport,” said Brockmann, who competes this week against Olympic gold-medallists and America’s Cup champions.
“The Extreme Sailing Series is a whole new experience for me. The boat is amazing. It’s incredibly physical, you don’t really stop. Sometimes you’re just working through your manoeuvres and you don’t realise everything else that’s happening in the fleet around you, but it’s amazing.”
This week in the Extreme Sailing Series Brockmann’s role has been to trim the foils that enable the GC32 catamaran to fly up to two metres above the water, but the Mexican sailor has a broad range of disciplines in the sport.
“Every time you go on a boat you could be in a different role so you have to be able to adapt to that. In 2015 I was asked by a J70 team to be their pit person for a full campaign. It was extremely hard for me to learn to focus on little things that I was in charge of instead of looking at the racing tactically and the boat speed, which is what I was used to. In the end this campaign taught me many things and it made me a better sailor.”
But Brockmann has another passion. Not content with a career in professional sailing, he is also an accomplished long-distance triathlete with one full Ironman and three half Ironmans under his belt.
“I think the mental side of triathlon is very similar to the sailing. You have to train very hard and then during the race you just have to keep going and it’s not over until it’s over, so I find many similarities between the two sports,” said Brockmann.
Over the past three days Team Extreme México have competed as part of an eight-strong fleet at Extreme Sailing Series Act 8, Los Cabos, presented by SAP. Today marks the final day of the season, which will see both the Act and the 2017 champion decided. Racing is being streamed live on the official Facebook and YouTube from 14:00 – 17:00 UTC-7.