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About Us

Welcome to Next Level Sailing — located in San Diego, California.

Next Level Sailing Timeline


Next Level Sailing LLC

The start of an exceptional company that takes sailing to the next level each and every trip.

April 2003

Stars & Stripes and Abracadabra

In April, Next Level Sailing acquired the first ever Coast Guard inspected carbon fiber vessels: Stars & Stripes and Abracadabra. The Abracadabra is particularly famous because of the beautiful artwork on the hull painted by marine artist, Wyland.


The Real World: San Diego

The fourteenth season of MTV’s hit reality show called The Real World was filmed in San Diego. The cast worked on the Stars & Stripes as crew members during the fall and winter of 2003. It was the first time Next Level Sailing had been part of a television show.


Yacht America

The gorgeous replica of the original 1851 racing yacht America was purchased. The replica was built in Albany, New York in 1995 by Scarano Boat designs. In 1996, yacht America carried the Olympic torch to the 1996 Olympic sailing venue in Savannah, GA. It was then sold to Historic Tours of America. It was purchased by Next Level Sailing in 2005. Captain Troy flew to Key West, FL and sailed the boat through the Panama Canal and all the way to its new home in San Diego, CA.


First Public Whale Watching Trip

This was a very exciting year for Next Level Sailing as it was the first time a public whale watching trip was offered. In addition, we were the only company in the world to offer a Whale Watching Guarantee & No Sea Sickness Guarantee. At this time, San Diego was famous for migrating gray whales. Who knew that we would soon discover that there were whales all year around here in San Diego. Due to our fabulous whale watching trips, we started to see fin whales and blue whales in the spring as well as humpback whales throughout the summer and fall. We also saw other types of animals including: Orcas, Minke Whales, Bryde’s Whale, Risso’s Dolphins, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Common Dolphins, Offshore-Bottlenose Dolphins, Sea Lions, Mola-Molas, Swordfish, Sharks, and Turtles!


Hospitality Vessel

In 2013, the yacht America sailed up to San Francisco and served as the hospitality vessel for ORACLE Team USA during the America’s Cup. It was an incredible event where we witnessed fast races between the AC72 catamarans and tons of photographers.


British Columbia

Yacht America and crew sailed up to British Columbia. This was the first big trip the vessel took since it sailed from Florida back in 2005.


23,500 Miles

In 2016, Captain Troy embarked on the trip of a lifetime. He sailed the America from San Diego through the Panama Canal all the way up to Maine. He then took the boat all the way back to San Diego. The trip ended up being 23,500 miles with a lot of great faces, yacht clubs, and volunteers along the way.


Sustainability Award

In 2019, Next Level Sailing proudly won the 2019 Sustainable Achievement Award for Overall Small Company. The award was presented by the Port of San Diego Green Business Network.


COVID Pandemic

The COVID pandemic hit, and trips were shut down. The yacht America had never been shut down for two weeks before. Captain Troy decided to make the most of the downtime and do boat maintenance. He recruited relief captain Fathom and they worked very hard for two weeks. The pandemic kept going and they kept varnishing. The world slowly started to open again. Sailing on an open deck in the fresh air was the safest activity, so the company offered whale watching trips with extremely limited capacity. We followed all state guidelines throughout 2020 and 2021.


Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

In February of 2021, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills filmed an episode aboard the America. The cast had a great time sailing aboard the yacht America. They ate delicious food prepared by the famous chef, Brian Malarkey. We had an all female crew except for Captain Troy. The cast was very impressed that our female crew raised the sails so efficiently. Be sure to watch the episode, “Over-poured and Over-board.” Rest assured, no one went overboard!


First Place

The yacht America proudly won first place in the 2021 America’s Schooner Cup. This event is a charity regatta hosted by the Silver Gate Yacht Club.



In the spring of 2021, there was a tragedy. A visiting Australian naval ship hit and killed a fin whale cow and calf in San Diego. This was an accident, but it could have been avoided. For years, Captain Troy has been trying to get the attention of big ships and educate them about whales feeding in San Diego. We don’t just have migrating gray whales, we also have whales that stay in San Diego for months at a time feeding on krill and fish. This tragedy made national news and provided the opportunity for a partnership. Since that awful tragedy, we have had wonderful support from the Navy and the Coast Guard. We let them know where the Fin whales and Blue whales are feeding so they can stay out of the way. In addition, Captain Troy has reached out to warships and submarines during our whale watching trips and notified them about whales feeding. For the most part, these ships have slowed down and altered their course in order to avoid collisions. Since 2021, the partnership has only improved and we are very grateful to our whale watching customers. We would not be able to share this information with big ships without their help. Great teamwork everyone! Thanks for helping educate and protect these magnificent creatures!


Full Capacity

Nearly two years since the COVID pandemic, we operated our first whale watching trip at full capacity on January 1st, 2022. We followed all state guidelines throughout the pandemic. It was surreal that the impact of the pandemic lasted so long. Captain Troy and crew also wanted to feel comfortable with the number of guests allowed per trip. We are eternally grateful to all the guests that sailed with us during the past two years. We would not have been able to stay afloat without you!


First Place, Again!

Once again, we won First Place at the America’s Schooner Cup. It was an exciting race, but we proudly won first place.


Blue Whales

Starting in mid-May, we saw the highest density of Blue Whales the company has ever seen. While these animals are endangered, we were able to witness blue whales almost every day for three months. It was incredible. We are thrilled with the success of our partnership and support of the Navy and the Coast Guard. They have listened to our radio calls and stayed well clear of whales this summer. We look forward to a stronger partnership in years to come.

Our Crew Is Awesome

Get to Know Us

Next Level Sailing prides itself in having a long-standing crew of young and talented sailors. Even our ‘back-up’ crew members have been sailing on the America for an average of eight years with the core crew members with us an average four years. Qualified in First Aid and other Coast Guard required credentials, each of our crew members have some key roles in addition to their all-round charm and local knowledge.

Owner and operator Captain Troy has logged over 200,000 miles aboard the yacht America. He is a walking encyclopedia of all things America’s Cup and a wealth of knowledge about San Diego’s Navy presence and local history. He was second in charge of the 1995 America’s Cup in San Diego and at the forefront of all the current America’s Cup activities.


Children being taught a lesson about whales

Our Captain

Troy Sears

Troy Sears


Captain Troy Sears started sailing at just nine years old right here in San Diego. He bought his first boat using the money he earned as a newspaper boy in San Diego. Over the years, he has continued his passion for sailing by sharing it with others. With over 8,000 hours on the water, he has racked up incredible experiences sailing to different destinations all over the world. From San Diego to the Panama Canal, and then to Maine and back to San Diego, Captain Troy has sailed quite the distance aboard the yacht America, teaching people about the history of the America’s Cup. Not only does he sail for leisure and education, he also sails for speed. The yacht America is often seen in the America’s Schooner Cup where he has led her to first place in 2022 and 2020. In 2016, he captained the America during the Newport to Bermuda race and the yacht America placed second in her class. Be sure to ask him any questions during your trips aboard the yacht America. He is truly a wealth of knowledge and fascinating stories.