Sport

Ken Read: A life on the ocean waves

Published 1540 GMT (2340 HKT) October 19, 2015
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Ken Read Comanche yacht SydneyKen Read Comanche yacht Sydney
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Ken Read, one of sailings most decorated yachtsman, stands at the helm of the French-designed, American-owned yacht Comanche as it sails past the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge in December 2014. The boat is like nothing that has been built before and was made to push the limits of sailing. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
"What we were after with Comanche was do something just better than had ever been done before," Read told CNN Mainsail's Shirley Robertson. "Something that had the capability of breaking records but it had to be safe." WILLIAM WEST/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
"A lot of times these boats get dangerous because people get a little crazy," explained Read. "We thought we knew where that edge was where we could build a boat that stayed in one piece but pushed the boundaries in everything it did." WILLIAM WEST/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Read believes the boat has the capability to transcend sailing and draw a new audience to the sport he has dedicated most of his life to. "It has to show off sailing in a way that non-sailors take notice and say, 'Whoa, what the heck is that?' Whether they see it on the water, whether they see it on the internet," Read explained. Volvo Ocean Race/Getty Images South America/Getty Images
"The internet has done amazing things for sailing because all of a sudden these glamorous boats, these crazy boats are being seen by people who've never even been on the water before," added Read. "So Comanche was definitely an attempt to help sailing expand, expand the base and maybe get more people interested and doing the sport that we love so much."
Volvo Ocean Race/Getty Images South America/Getty Images
The two-time United States Rolex Yachtsman of the Year poses during a photoshoot on a mountain near Alicante, Spain, ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race in November 2011. Like the boat he steers, Read is well known to many who aren't avid sailing fans. Volvo Ocean Race/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
It all started in 1999 when legendary sailor Dennis Conner -- known as "Mr America's Cup" -- called on the then inexperienced Read to be part of his 2000 America's Cup team. Volvo Ocean Race/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
"Well, 1999 he called me up completely out of the blue, I thought it was a prank call from one of my buddies," Read said. "I was shocked and stunned and it turned out to be really one of the best campaigns ever because there were no expectations." Volvo Ocean Race/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
"Dennis didn't have any expectations, he essentially handed a bunch of kids the keys to an America's Cup program and said, 'Just don't screw it up and embarrass me and see how it goes.'" Volvo Ocean Race/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Despite remaining an active sailor, Read has turned his attentions to business in recent years, taking the reigns as president of North Sails -- one of the sailing industry's biggest corporations. OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
With some of the sails produce costing up to $800,000, the pressure is on Read to deliver on land as well as on the sea. "I think these big race boat programs are exactly like running a company like North Sails," he said. "Obviously a smaller version of it but it's really team building, I mean that's all any company is whether it's a race team company or whether it's a sailboat manufacturing company." Nick Wilson/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images