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At the age of 5, I set foot for the first time on a sailing boat called Ausart, “Brave” in Basque. I only needed the name to know that we were going to have a great regatta as I was going to sail the “bravest” boat in the fleet.

I remember sitting in the stern, my feet dangling, the water rushing under me, the boat bouncing with every wave, the captain giving orders at every maneuver that I couldn’t understand, and grinning from ear to ear without knowing why.

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Jon Wood as a child standing holding the boat’s sail

To be honest, the regatta mattered little to me. My greatest happiness came from the feeling I got from the boat, the views, the smell of the sea, the laughs with my mates, and best of all, the afterward ham and tomato sandwich.

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Jon Wood as a child sitting on starboard

That day something changed inside me, like a flame that arises and shows you the way. My priorities were transformed and as time went by, I began to sail more frequently, participating in regattas along the Basque and Cantabrian Coast, as I improved my nautical skills and knowledge.

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Jon Wood, regatta with the Phoenix

One of the crossings I remember most fondly and enthusiastically was when I was 8 years old. We sailed from the port of La Rochelle (France) to Zumaia (Gipuzkoa), well known for the Flysch, with winds of 15 to 25 knots. My father’s friends asked him not to take me, that the sea would be rough and dangerous, that I wouldn’t enjoy it and that I would probably end up scared and not wanting to go onboard in the future.

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Jon Wood, regatta with the Phoenix, right

Far from the reality, I enjoyed every moment of the crossing and once we reached port, after more than thirty hours of sailing, I only thought of repeating that experience, feeling the force of the waves ramming the hull, wetting the deck, the ropes under tension, the sound of the sea, the wind whistling and us trying to keep the boat upright after each heel.

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Regatta with Tteiro

Until the age of 17, I sailed very competitively, winning many of the regattas on the Basque and Cantabrian coasts, even winning some regattas up to 3 years in a row. I sailed in one of the most prestigious and feared boats of the fleet, the Phoenix, model Farr 40. A real work of art for sailing in light winds and a constant danger sailing in strong winds due to its lightweight and sails of up to 154 m2.

Sailing competitively had its downside for me and I gradually discarded it until I decided to board the Tteiro: a boat with a youthful atmosphere and an excellent captain whom we called “el Aitatxi“, which in Basque would be an affectionate diminutive of “father”, as he was the one who looked after us during the sailing.
When I was 19, my father Ian bought his first boat. Exclusively for the enjoyment of the coast and sailing. Outings became comfortable strolls (journeys/trips) with wine glasses, barbecues on board, swimming in the sea, and relaxing evenings with spectacular sunsets. All of this was surrounded by a unique and exciting landscape full of sea stories.

I was 21 when I decided to embark on a new project to show travellers what I have experienced since childhood. Spirit Experiences was born from this great passion I feel for the “all blue” (para no repetir “sea” que viene justo después), a new way of discovering the Basque Country, doing it from the sea, and from my experience and passion. It is also a great way of getting to know the history and culture of our surroundings in a totally exclusive way and elevate the experience with refined gastronomy and authenticity.

We enjoy the sea, its immensity, its beauty, and its spirit, making us feel small in the face of its greatness, respecting its delicacy without forgetting its relevance in our daily lives. 70% of the earth is covered by water and represents the largest source of oxygen on the planet, let’s take care of it as it takes care of us, and above all let’s enjoy it in all its splendour and beauty.

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