Bob Pickard

Profile: The Fanatical Life of Yacht Racer Michael Kane

Esquire Magazine

Kane photo for web smallest

Michael Kane steers his fifty-five­ foot trimaran, Crusader, across the calm, crowded waters of Newport Harbor, gliding past high-priced houses and condos in a paradise of Southern California affluence. It's a bright winter's day and the canal is jammed with weekend boat traffic: Windsurfers, rented rowboats, growling outboards, spa­cious motor yachts, and sailboats of every description.

"Boozers and cruisers," scoffs Kane. Most of the ten thousand boats in California's largest yacht harbor don't venture past the breakwater, he says. But Kane and Crusader are different. Crusader is an open-ocean racer, stripped down and built for speed. Its three slim hulls span thirty­-three feet across. The top of the boat is flat, its narrow, Spartan cabin hidden inside the middle hull. The expansive deck is smooth and streamlined, an uncluttered plane designed to minimize wind resist­ance and to wring all possible speed from a breeze. It gives the boat its nicknames ("the floating tennis court" and "the junior air­craft carrier").

But as you stand in the center of the boat, watching one stiletto hull lifted out of the water and the other slicing neatly through it, the impression is more of a sleek spacecraft, an Imperial Starship.