The Captain's Challenge, An Approach Towards Understanding Risk Through the Metaphors of Sailing

Eric Best


Eric Best, one of the world’s most accomplished practitioners of scenario-based strategic planning for global corporations and chief executives, began his sailing life in Penobscot Bay cruising and racing with his father along the New England coast. En route to a distinguished career as a journalist, strategy consultant and 10 years on Wall Street with Morgan Stanley, he pursued his passion for sailing with two solo trips from San Francisco to Hawaii and back, a decade of San Francisco Bay sailing and Pacific coastal cruising, and the 2002 Newport-Bermuda Race before skippering his 65-foot Swan from San Francisco to Jamaica in 2005.

Long fascinated by the parallels between the challenges inherent in sailing, navigation, crew management and the business issues that confront senior executives, Eric brings both his sailing experience and strategic insights to bear in The Captain’s Challenge. A challenging thinker, an inspirational speaker, and a superb facilitator of senior executive groups, he combines intellectual leadership with lateral thinking on global and industry issues — often with great insight and humor. He has developed a wide range of interactive and facilitative tools to help individuals and groups clarify their intentions and deepen their understanding of business and organizational challenges, and their own attitudes in the business context.

As part of the core group that developed Global Business Network from a startup in the early 1990s to a preeminent consultancy in the United States, he developed scenarios on multiple topics for Motorola, Monsanto, Price Waterhouse, Andersen Consulting and the CIA. His work on Wall Street addressed Internet impacts on financial markets, the European Monetary Union, Foreign Exchange, Y2K, China capital market evolution and the media and communications industries. Most recently for clients in private equity, Asian and US investment banking, US bioscience and renewable energy, he has focused on Japan, the U.S. dollar, asset management, hedge funds and the implications of a low-return world. He is committed to the view that historical volatility is not a trustworthy guide to the future and that US-China relations are among the most important uncertainties facing global development.

Mr. Best began a journalism career in 1972, and was a 1983-84 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He specialized in international economics and policy and became a business and investigative projects editor for the San Francisco Examiner from 1985-1989. A graduate of the Stanford University’s Writers' Program in fiction and literature in 1973-74, he holds a bachelor's degree in English from Hamilton College (’70) in New York. He has written and spoken extensively on the forces of global market competition, invented a table-top sailing simulator for novices, and has authored a children’s book, “The Deep.”


Gary Wheeler


Although being formally educated in the field of clinical psychology, Mr. wheeler has spent the last 30 years working on and sailing classic wooden sailboats. He is also the designer of the Mast Mate, a patented alternating-step flexible ladder made of 2 inch-wide nylon webbing that is attached to the sail track with the appropriate slides and pulled aloft by a halyard, allowing a sailor to go aloft unassisted He is the sole proprietor of the Mast Mate Company which has sold the mast mate climbing system for the last 20yrs. Interspersed with his sailing commitments, he has maintained a deep interest in the psychological factors involved with trauma recovery and with his wife, Dr. Ann Jennings, established the Anna Institute. He and his wife presently reside in Rockland Maine.


Rick Dawson


Rick Dawson was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. He started sailing in 1973 and headed west during the Cape to Uruguay trans-Atlantic race in 1982. He spent the next 10 months traveling through the Caribbean, entering Antigua race week and eventually traveling north to the US Virgin Islands and beyond. Rick found himself joining the Rainbow Warrior as boson's mate in Boston, where his next two years were spent traveling the Eastern and Western Seaboard from South America to the Aleutian Chain campaigning for the environment and photo journaling the Warrior's experiences. Rick ended up in San Francisco, where he married and raised two children aboard his 55 ft Sailboat "Umfendez." He spends his time managing San Francisco Boat Works, sailing and mountain biking the Marin Headlands.


Emily Best

From a family of lifelong sailors, Emily grew up on a sailboat in San Francisco bay, gaining experience in heavy weather sailing almost every weekend of her youth. At thirteen, she crewed a double-handed fun race to Hawaii from San Francisco with her father. She has since crewed journeys down the California coast, return trips from Bermuda to New York, and from Acapulco to Jamaica. For The Captain's Challenge, Emily is an able deckhand and steady stomach in the galley (she's the cook). Currently also head of research and chief of operations for Best Partners, she currently divides her time between Sacramento, California and New York City. Emily graduated Phi Beta Kappa in anthropology and American studies from Haverford College in 2002, after which she studied jazz music at the Taller de Musics in Barcelona, Spain.

Having grown up in the restaurant industry, Emily began her business career as the manager of a 200-seat restaurant in the Sacramento Delta, and went on to run a $5M operation in Davis, California.

Since joining Best Partners in 2006, Emily has helped develop projects in renewable energies, financial services, Asia and emerging markets, and spearheaded the redesign efforts of both the Best Partners and The Captain's Challenge websites.

An avid cook and singer, she brings a Generation Y perspective to current affairs and an anthropologist's perspective to business culture.


Eric Best Gary Wheeler Rick Dawson Emily Best Best Partners