An interview with Captain Eugenie; sailor, teacher and owner of Sinfonia Nautical. Although Eugenie now calls Sayulita her home, she is originally from France. How has living this dream-life come about for Eugenie? And what does she hope to manifest for her own future, and the future of the (sailing and yachting) community of the Bahia de Banderas?
Eugenie, you were born and raised in France. Do you come from a family where water and/or sailing runs through their veins?
Actually not at all. My father told me once that he gets seasick at the thought of me sailing. I have to say that they have always been extremely supportive and open minded. My mother, for example, would lay out maps when I would tell her that I had a gig in New Zealand straight out of college, or to Bermuda when I was still in high school. My sailing comes from my neighbors in France. Forty-three years later, and they are still my best friends, my neighbor and her father. Every summer we would go to Brittany and sail, and we would always find a way, year after year. Up until this day, I thank the Beughems for the passion that they sparked in me.
When did you decide you wanted to settle in the Bahia de Banderas, and what opportunities did you see available that weren't necessarily available to you in San Fransisco (where you have run various sailing schools) or France?
Honestly, it wasn't in my plans to settle in Sayulita and work in Nuevo Vallarta, or even settle in Mexico. I was very happy in San Francisco, but when Jworld hired me to go open their winter location in Puerto Vallarta, I took a shot at it. After six months of being here: living in Sayulita and sailing in the Bay of Banderas, experiencing warm waters, winds, whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and manta rays every day, I felt amazing! So when I got back to San Francisco and had to put my foul weather gear on, I said to myself: no way! I moved everything I owned, drove down by car and took the chance. And what an incredible chance it was. I started Sinfonia Nautical, and now offer sailing classes and private charter and tours in the area.I feel more at home here in Mexico (as a French) than I ever did in the U.S. (as a ½ American)!
Could you describe to us the essence of your passion for sailing, yachting, and subsequently teaching and coaching? What brings you the greatest joy?
That's easy: I love what I do, and I do what I love. Every morning I wake up and think: 'Yes, I am going sailing!'.
Whether it's taking people for a pleasure cruise or whether it's teaching someone and seeing that light in their eyes when they finally discover that joy and passion, that for me is the essence of sailing, and that's the beauty of teaching.
Currently you are also part-time coaching for Vallarta Yacht Club's Junior Sailing Program, where you train our youth to compete in Olympic-level competitions. Do you believe this program plays a part of building a socially stronger community?
I was the head coach for the Vallarta YC for six years until last January. Now I am an active member. I went in to try to put the club on the map. The Mexican kids are very strong competitors and I took it into my hands to try to make it happen. I taught little kids that are now almost adults and brought them to a level that surpassed everybody's expectation. They ended up competing in North America, South America, and world opti championships. The VYC is and has world class championship regattas. I still remember holding their hands and traveling with them to places they never thought they would ever travel to; kind of like when I myself cruised the South Pacific, traveling to countries I never even knew existed before. So yes, those kids are our future, and I am glad to have been able to build on that future.
You are considered quite the entrepreneur, besides delivering boats worldwide and co-owning E2Yacht Services, you run Sinfonia Nautical. Does living in paradise counter balance this part of your (working) life?
I have always lived in Sayulita and commuted to Nuevo Vallarta, La Cruz, and the Vallarta Marina every day for the past eleven years. To me, it's worth the drive. Living in Sayulita has been such a breathe of fresh air, and I immediately felt at home. Now, I built a home and got married to a local. The counter balance to the traveling for the regattas, the delivering boats, and offering private charters and sailing classes with Sinfonia Nautical, I believe, is building that home and puting down roots.
In 2009, you were credited for your heroic efforts, rescuing your guests and students after a whale collided with the J120 you were captaining. What happened that particular day, and what does it take to be a good sailor?
That's a whole other story in itself! To be a good sailor, preparation is one of the most important pillars. Being strict in the preparation, the equipment, keeping a tight crew, and a clean boat attributes to a safe and sound rescue and in this case a safe trip/delivery. I've sailed my whole life and have had amazing opportunities meeting incredible people and sailing to the most beautiful places. So staying focused and open minded to what the world can offer has given me the chance and ability to live my passion. My passion is my (every day) life, my hobby, and work. Yes, my work is my passion and my hobby.
We are excited now! How can our Sayulita Life readers get a hold of you when inspired to explore sailing, or making an offshore trip with Sinfonia Nautical? How do we get started?
The best way to contact me would be in town, when you see me, or via the Sayulita Life website. Don't hesitate to contact me, I'd love to introduce you to the beauty of sailing!