Olympic gold medalist Brad Alan Lewis trades in his rowing gear for a spot on the American syndicate in the 1986-1987 America's Cup, the most sought after prize in sailing. In Confessions of a Grinder, Lewis recounts how he came to earn a spot on the boat as a grinder, the most physically challenging position on the boat. Lewis's tale spans eight months of physically grueling training, travel and competition for a berth in the America's Cup race. Crewing for Tom Blackaller, Lewis's introduction to the world of sailing is more of a baptism by fire.
Despite elimination in the trials by the widely known Stars and Stripes syndicate helmed by Dennis Connor, previous America's Cup victor, Lewis and the other members of the USA syndicate emerge with many stories to tell and "enough clothing to open [their] own clothing store." Lewis was undeterred by the fact that he made only $1000 a month as a grinder after having made no money from rowing (save for his salary as a financial analyst).
Not only is Confessions of a Grinder a fascinating tale of a crew trying to make it to the America's Cup to defend the United States' honor, but it is also yet another interesting study of Lewis himself. Lewis seems to gravitate towards lesser-known sports such as rowing and sailing which require tremendous physical and mental strength but have little to no financial reward or public recognition. Lewis also enjoys bucking any system he encounters and his turn as a grinder on the USAsyndicate is no exception. Always in search of a challenge, Lewis tackles a new water sport with determination coupled with fascination with the world of sailing which was so clearly different from that of the rowing community.
Brad Alan Lewis is also the author of Assault on Lake Casitas and Wanted: Rowing Coach. He won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics rowing in the bow seat of the United States' double scull crew. Lewis is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles. He went on to coach rowing at the University of California at Santa Barbara where his team won the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships.