At just 18, this Hawaii sailor is securing her spot in catamaran racing history

Hawaii’s CJ Perez competes at the highest level of catamaran racing.
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 2:33 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 4:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s CJ Perez competes at the highest level of catamaran racing.

That’s pretty amazing considering she started sailing just five years ago — when her parents signed her up for a sailing camp.

“I think in the beginning I just really loved the freedom that it gave me, and I loved how fast the boats went,” she said.

The Punahou graduate’s hydrofoil sailing career is on a fast track. She’s the first woman ever to make Team USA’s SailGP pro team, and the first to race in the global sailing championship.

“I knew I had the foiling experience, and I also had a few championship titles to back me, so I put my name in there. I’m really glad I did because I was selected,” she said.

Sail grand prix is the major league of hydrofoil racing. The catamarans sit high on foils and fly over the ocean, reaching speeds up to 60 mph.

Her job is to be the team’s eyes and ears.

“When you’re going full speed and the water splashes you, it feels like a fire hose,” she said.

CJ is also the first Latina female in the pro ranks. At 18, she’s the youngest sailor to ever make Team USA.

“I love this sport. Being a part of SailGP is a breathtaking experience,” she said.

The team just competed in Spain and is ranked second in the world, with a good shot at the million-dollar grand prize next year in San Francisco.

CJ is eager to get back on the water.

“I’m super grateful that I’ve been given this platform where I can not only represent Team USA but also Hawaii on such a global scale,” she said.

In case you’re wondering, CJ is short for Catherine Jean. In the ultra-competitive world of SailGP and in a very short time, she’s made quite a name for herself.

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