Pamala Baldwin pursued a career in remote hunting for remote ultra-luxury island resorts, but it was time to add a cheese-exporting business shortly after moving from New Jersey to Antigua in 2004. In or out of the water, it’s hard to hold on, but it would be nice to navigate the option.
Baldwin, 73, and his owner Liquid, a J / 122, a 40-foot race sloop, have cut part of the Caribbean sailing race, earning big victories and the honors of the Caribbean annual boat more than once. The next on the island circuit is the most exotic of all, Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, who has competed four times with Liquid, including his 2019 overall victory.
The following interview has been shortened and edited.
What’s the secret to Liquid’s success?
No secrets. We do more work. We will be in the water on race day a few hours before the start. We study the wind. We maneuver; make sure we keep our movements down. There may be another vessel or two doing the same thing. Other people show up in the end, and they all want to win. How much do you want?
There is also investment. This is a “yacht” race.
Many boat owners have a lot of money, but not everything is in their pocket. I put everything in the bowl and then wonder how to get dinner.
You probably mean that this is true enough.
Few boat owners choose or manage their crew the way you do. Tell us more.
I have a young crew. There is a core that has been with me for a long time. We raise others, we teach them to be professionals, we help them find a place in the world.
We’ve had Olympians on the team, and every year there’s a new young teammate. I now have a six-year-old boy who is six feet tall, Malik Charles, but I call him Ninja. Six feet fell on top of me as I was making a spinnaker change [hauling the large nylon sail into the forepeak at the bow] and it almost broke my nose. The child could not pass the apology. I always cry when they leave, and someday it will be with him.
You have a reputation for being ruthlessly competitive. Is that fair?
I am 73 years old. I work as hard as anyone on the boat. Bodybuilding is one of my sports. I am starting a business now in long-term resorts because there is a market to promote health and longevity.
It’s another one [statement of] luxury. I’m the center of that market because I never want to give up racing. And I don’t commit to it. When I bought the liquid, everything added weight and it didn’t help the boat go fast and I took it out. The toilet seat cover had to go, for sure.
As a boat owner, you also have a reputation for partying hard. Is that worth it?
Ask my friends.
Julian White, 28, won the 2019 Liquid victory in St. Louis. Barth’s. What does it bring?
Jules is as good as his results show, and I don’t pay him as much as others would pay.
You won the Caribbean Sailing Association’s Trophy in 2020 — again — because you were already competing well in three regattas when the pandemic closed things down. How “normal” is that?
We are always present. Caribbean 600 in 2018 [600 miles around 11 islands] make the weather bad. We were wet and cold all the way, living on freeze-dried food. There were helicopter rescues around us, but we were done.
Liquid was awarded Best Caribbean Ship of the Year that year. But surely there is no reason to expect Lesen’s storm ride. Sails of St. Barth?
I love St. Barth. It’s our most important point of the season. Les Voiles is unlike any other regatta. The island is like Europe. She is so stylish. If I could speak French, I would go there.