How I Think About Rigging // Mate Liz Karamavous

In my final year of university, I knew I wanted to pursue sailing as my career, knew the layers it took to be a competent sailor, had a small background in rigging and young, bold confidence. I decided to move to Newport, RI. 

The March before graduation I drove there in business casual in my 2003 Jeep Liberty with 200,000 miles for a job interview at Newport Shipyard (NSY). I was way overdressed for the interview and I got the job, but only part-time. I wanted a job as a rigger but took the job at NSY if apprenticing as a rigger turned out to be unpaid.

I knew a few friends in the sail-racing industry just by going to school by the water. After the interview, I called all of them asking for names of rigging shops in the area and about each one’s reputation. Everyone said, “Gorilla Rigging is the best”. So I turned my car around and took my two resumés (Scientific & Sailing) to Gorilla Rigging. I said “My name is Elizabeth Karamavros. I’m graduating in May and want to be a rigger” to the owner and shook his hand; my resumes soon to follow. I had no idea who he was at the time, but he was the man behind the first desk I saw. I later found out that Gorilla Rigging is one of the top three racing rig shops in the world, and works on Grand Prix Race Boats.

Long story short, I worked there for two years. I started as a part-time apprentice and worked my way up to full time. The owner told me much later that I got the job because of that bold confidence (in more colorful salty-sailor words that I will spare). There I learned to work with riggers that had been in the industry, rigging and racing professionally, for 10 – 30 years. They pushed me into responsibilities they knew I was ready for before I was. They were patient with me as I learned, and apprenticed me the old fashioned way. 

As far as knowledge on the subject – based on working with such experienced riggers – I know the very tip of the iceberg. There is so much nuance and the more I learned the more I realized how much I didn’t know. If you have ever spoken to me about rope I can talk for hours (literally). So know, if you’re looking at apprenticing – do yourself and the shop a favor – work there for a MINIMUM of two years.

It wasn’t until recently the imposter’s syndrome faded away and I realized what a wealth of information about rigging I understood. I am learning more everyday. I look forward to sharing some of my on-the-job stories on the LIVE Crowdcast event this Tuesday June 2nd at 1700 EDT! 

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