- Building American Leaders Through Sailing -

Lau Busch-Petersen

2016 Sapling

Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark

After high school i did not know what to study, so i took a ‘few’ gap years before making the big decision of what to study. I worked and lived in Copenhagen, traveling when i had money to spare, enjoying life while sort of ‘getting some more perspective’ on life before making up my mind. I think its nonsense to study something if you are not passionate about it.

While traveling I met this British sailor, we got along super well and he ended up spending a couple of months together. At the start of the Mediterranean sailing season he went back to Greece, but before he left he told me if i was bored I could come work with him. During the months we lived together he told me a lot about his job and the industry and it sounded like he had the coolest job in the world. So I went, he skippered, I hung out… 

After 2 weeks I figured I couldn’t hang around my mates cabin forever, and I wasn’t learning anything about sailing, but by this time my goal was to make a living sailing.

Not long after I found myself applying to a sail-training school in Denmark. ‘School’ was a square-rigged training ship from 1934. We slept 42 people in the same room, in hammocks, “shoulder to shoulder,” for five and a half months. We sailed from Denmark up to the North Sea and around the Faroe islands before returning to Denmark to do the Tall Ships Race to Finland and around the Baltic Sea.

The job I got 2 years ago was on the tall ship “Stad Amsterdam.” It’s been pretty smooth sailing, sort of the old triangle from back in the days, winters in the Caribbean, springs in the Mediterranean, and America and then summer in the north of Europe before doing a month of shipyard in the Autumn and then southwest again. I have been really happy there, and I got good at it. The problem is that after 3 years on square rigged ships my learning curve has flattened out so I need to take on some new challenges.

There is a proverb that says ‘if you can sail a square rigger you can sail anything,’ I don’t think this is true at all, on the big ships you look up and trim and trim (we have like 300 lines), but its hard to feel the immediate difference because we are talking a thousands of tons. So I am really looking forward to being on smaller boats, feeling the boat, and I know it will make me a much better sailor. I hope Oakcliff can be the catalyst to take me to the next level.