In the shade of a big pine cone tree full of noisy cicadas, I met a curious sailor soul. We were sitting at the bar with my usual afternoon beer when I got introduced to Yannis by a mutual friend. Part able racer, part ladies man, and 100 percent salty soul, he was full of stories I could not wait to put on paper. Everyone calls him “professor”, because he is. Intelligent and witty, he is a most interesting conversationalist on any kind of topic you can pick, and you may be assured the result will be infinite and infinitely awesome. Not content with just this, he hosts the best barbecues in the marina and, of course, he fishes personally the goodies he grills for everyone who wants to partecipate. His spirit is generous and everyone is welcome, no invitations are needed. Oftentimes, his musician friends come along too, and belt out delightful Greek melodies, with some classics thrown in. Yeah, I tried to dance to their music, as it is the natural evolution to each gathering… the feet I stepped on still have my prints on them! He loves a lot of things, but you can see clearly by his smile that sea is in his soul, sailing, racing as well as fishing and sharing his days with friends on his boat.
Every time I have the chance to spend some time talking to Yannis and sharing ideas and opinions, I treasure it dearly. Take a look at his words to see why:
– Talk about your background and where you come from (what’s your story, in the way you want it to be known)?
Our background affects us constantly. I find this to be both part of the problem (we usually try to get out of that reality) and the solution as the choices that make us happy are mainly shaped on the basis of our background. You may live in another world, having a dream job, but you will always remember things that you tasted, smelled and experienced that shaped your personality during your childhood. Early enough (at the age of 22) while studying computer science in the UK I realized that I wanted to live a life where my choices would be reflecting my views and way of life. So I did quite a prospective international career as research director on multimedia research and development and decided to opt-in for quality of life, moving to Corfu, buying a yacht that I could manage by myself and become a university researcher with no office-hours (you tend to work over 60 hours a week by doing that, it’s not easy btw).
– What is your age, or age range?
I am currently 45 y.o, single, like motorcycle riding around Europe (have traveled 10 times from the UK to Corfu and completed numerous long-distance trips), like sailing and club racing, barbecues, beer, and parties.
– Why did you start sailing?
I was working long hours setting up our Informatics and Audio Visual Arts departments and a friend of mine suggested that we did something different to change our perspective. She was right.
– How long has it been?
Started October 2016, completed the course Dec 2016, started sailing with everyone at the Corfu Sailing Club during the same winter, in the summer a friend of mine bought a boat and we prepared and raced her in 2017. Got outstanding results (my ex research group was working on fluid mechanics and I was the main visualizer/interaction designer of their data so it was easy to understand what turbulence is and what keeps you from moving fast enough).
– Who do you sail with?
A team originating from Ionian University and friends. During summertime, I depart without knowing when I will be back, usually with international friends who visit during the summer.
– How did your life change since you started sailing?
Sailing changed my way of life and taught me how to manage people and prioritize actions without panicking.
I am more relaxed, got a different perspective about life and its priorities, have been enjoying simple things more than ever.
– How do you make money while cruising?
I have set up my working environment so that I can operate remotely. My research group is really active and we meet only when we have to. So most of my work can be done while sailing. I have written books, research papers, submitted funding proposals, done meetings etc. I do have a 18Amp solar panel/tent to charge the boat, both fridges and the laptop while being stationary at the southwest bay of Antipaxos.
– What kind of a boat do you own and what kind of boats you had previously?
I own a Sigma 33 (1983) named Burgundy – GRE-1364, a fantastic British boat that has been converted to be operated only by one person. The previous boat was an Elan 33 named Annelies II.
– What do you love and hate most about your boat?
What I love is the fact that it has never let me down without warning. What I hate is that I do not have enough money to rebuild it fully.
– Where is your boat’s name from? (previous owner story? Or why did you pick this name?)
Sigma yachts named this series after drinks. Mine is named Burgundy and I have met in the Mediterranean the owners of “Champagne” and “Jack Daniels”.
– If you could change your boat’s name to anything else, what would it be and why?
I would not change the name but if I had to it would be something funny (PlayBuoy, Senza Freni – meaning without breaks but in Italian also means a little crazy, etc).
– What is your dreamboat?
My dreamboat is one that I can also handle and will allow me to travel all over the world safely and effortlessly. But for now I seriously like an Elan 310 racing that offers everything that a sailor who wants to go fast wishes to have, while it can be moored practically everywhere as it is small.
– If you could pick any fictional character to sail with as crew, who would it be?
I do not like fiction and fictional characters a lot as they provide an idealistic perspective to life (and life is not ideal, despite the fact that we try to make it look like it is). I prefer to sail with many people and discover their character, capabilities, and limitations. I also contrast my characteristics to those co-sailors and think that this makes me a better person.
– What’s the best thing about sailing and your favorite moment while sailing?
Life is full of possibilities. My favorite moment is when I leave the port and do not know when and if I will be back. It really changes my mood.
– What are the most memorable anchorage and place you sailed to?
There are so many and for many reasons. Antipaxos I think is one of the places that are so memorable but inaccessible and you cannot stay there forever, so being there for 3-4 days is something that can not be forgotten.
– What is the one county that you would most want to (and can) sail to that you almost certainly won’t get to, and what’s stopping you?
A cross-Atlantic trip is my dream but without the need to get there on time. I do not know if I will ever get to do that but I will certainly try. Also getting on an America’s cup hydrofoil would be the thing to do, feeling all this power and control is something that you can never get enough.
– What is the craziest thing that happened while sailing?
I organized a party out in nowhere and stayed there for 3 days!
The party in the middle of nowhere happened on Antipaxos island, it was the day off after the Corfu-Paxos regatta and we just moored out of Antipaxos for the day. Everybody went swimming, and then another boat moored next to us, and then another, and another, all friends who happened to be there. We rafted the bots together and started cooking and grilling. Then Sam, a friend who at that time permanently lived on Antipaxos, brought 5 lt of his home-produced wine, a dark red, bubbly demi-sec, that elevated that experience. We started dancing and people kept coming. The party did not finish until very late at night. Most of the other boats left and we decided to stay there for the night. It got a little windy but we were protected. At one point a fishing boat came into the bay. A friend that was on board with us delivered by dinghy some steaks, chicken and grilled vegetables with some wine to the fishermans. They hailed us, and early in the morning they woke us up and left on board of our boat 5kg of whitebait and 5kg of red mullet which we had no way to preserve without a lot of ice and electricity. So we decided to continue the party in Gaios, where we found a nice and quiet spot. We got our portable bar out and started frying fish, making salad and inviting everyone to join. It took me three days to recover but the good thing is that everybody remembers only part of the party, nobody is able to tell the whole story at the end!
– Scariest moment?
I was inexperienced and decided to take for a sail a family who were friends of a friend of mine with kids. They had no sailing experience, I did not know if they could swim, they were wearing floats but no life vests. So we left from the port of Ipsos to visit the nearby caves and when we got there, they suddenly decided to jump into the water, without a warning. I freaked out, shouted at them, shouted at the parents and we immediately returned back. Since then I am very careful with who I allow on board!
– Your favorite myth/legend
I do not like fiction. But I can see why the Ancient Greeks gave certain characteristics to Poseidon, they are all true!
– Do you have any rituals on the boat?
I allow my crew to drink beer after 12pm.
– What are the plans for the future?
Enjoy life and evolve naturally. Get to know more people, make new friends, have fun, barbecues, share experiences and spend quality time with them. That’s all that matters.
– What is your personal dream?
I live my personal dream, I can do whatever I like.
– What is your idea of freedom?
Not being bound by strict choices. Having the ability to innovate, be sarcastic, have fun and be happy. This is freedom to me.
– What’s your ocean “anthem”?
Here is my list for 2020.
Archive – Again
The Black Heart Procession – A Cry For Love
C.W. Stoneking ~ The Love Me Or Die
Daughter – Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover)
DUSK -What are the Chances (Original Version) [Official Lyrics]
Gramatik – Dungeon Sound (Street Bangerz Vol. 3!)
HANNAH WILLIAMS _ The TASTEMAKERS – Work it out
Hozier – To Be Alone (live in Kilkenny)
In a manner of speaking – Nouvelle Vague
John Newman – Love Me Again
KADEBOSTANY – Castle in the Snow (Official Video)
Kasabian – L.S.F
Kovacs – I’ve Seen That Face Before
Kovacs – My Love (Official Video)
Kovacs – Sound Of The Underground – Lowlands 2014
Leftover Cuties- You Are My Sunshine (Audio)
Mazzy Star – Fade Into You
Monika – Over the hill (official video clip)
Monika – Yes I Do
Monophonics – Bang Bang
Novak – Rapunzel
Parov Stelar – All Night (Extended Club Version) [HD 720]
Parov Stelar – The princess
Parov Stelar – The Sun (feat. Graham Candy) (Official Video)
The Reborn Identity Radiohead vs Morcheeba ft Manda Zamolo vs Digitalism Spirit World mashup
The Sound – I Can’t Escape Myself (HQ)
Tom Odell – Another Love
Now I know that we will be seeing each other for a long time and I will be learning things and new stories from him, and I just can’t wait to have a beer in the shade of the pine tree, at our usual spot at the bar. Until then, I hope to see him quarantined in the bay of Paxos with us.