It is over. As I said in my last article, “a lot can and will happen” between NY and the finish in Gothenberg.
I think what happened was beyond all of our expectations. The very unfortunate loss of Hans Horrevoets and the sinking of movistar were almost too much to take in a 48 hour period. Just as the event was sinking in its most disastrous moment, the kids on ABN2 revived the show with their outstanding seamanship, composure, and compassion. The Portsmouth stopover was naturally a subdued with all that had happened out on the Atlantic. Through it all, everyone kept looking to the “kids” to set the tone and lead the way forward. They made good decisions all the way including the one to continue in the race.
Onboard The Black Pearl, we managed to move solidly into second place overall in Portsmouth, only to antagonize our families and fans during the “Round Great Britain leg” and the Rotterdam In-Port race, allowing Brasil1 to have a shot at us on the last leg. We were managing our lead, playing a conservative hand, but the heat was definitely going up in the kitchen. But in the end, we did what we had to do and even managed to win the last leg to end the “Lap” on a huge high. The number of boats and people awaiting our arrival in Gothenberg was a least twice as big as the two America’s Cup finals that I have been in. For me, it was extra special as my wife is Swedish and my inlaws were all there to welcome us home.
To finish second overall, after being last after the Cape Town In-Port race, and all the struggles we had with the boat, was a very satisfying achievement. Satisfaction is derived by exceeding your expectations, and while we did not win this race, I am every bit as satisfied as I was after winning with EF in 1998. My biggest pleasure was seeing our team, 30 strong, come together over the 12 months. We started as a bunch of individuals and developed into a team. That process is a beautiful thing. I think it is one of the most special things about sport. The intensity of sport matures relationships at a very high rate. People who don’t know each other at all at the beginning of something like this, are life long friends at the end of it. There will always be a special place in my memory for the 30 Pirates who made it all happen.
I stayed in Sweden for 10 days following the Volvo. My sister in law got married and I just hung around with my family. I then went down to Castellon and raced in the TP 52 regatta there with Lexus/Atalanti. Russell Coutts was the helmsman so we had some fun sailing together for the first time. We did not have a good regatta though, finishing 9th out of 21 boats. The bottom line there is that is a very competitive fleet. It is almost one design in terms of the speeds. I would liken it to Star racing more than Farr 40 racing. The boats have some conditions when they exhibit a slight edge but, by and large, any boat can when any race. The regatta leader and race 5 winner, finished 16th in race 6 and dropped 6 places in the standings. Half of the boats are new for this season so that was just the second regatta. All the boats are in the process of improving their performance. We had some issues with upwind speed and getting enough load on the rudder. So we played with the rake and rig set up and made some small improvements. There is a lot to be learned there and lots of potential for every boat in the fleet. Whoever puts the time in will reap the benefits.
Last week, I went to Cascade Locks on the Columbia River (Oregon) with my son and his crew Max. He was sailing his 29er there and 49ers were also racing. That is a fantastic place to sail. 15-20 knots of wind every day, flat and fresh water, good camping, inexpensive and generally a relaxed atmosphere. I was the guy in charge of buying the beer, getting is chilled down, getting the pistachios, chips and salsa, and having it all ready when the boats hit the shore. I had our pickup truck backed up to the levy, tailgate down, cooler out in front, extra chairs laid out when the guys and gals came ashore. I really enjoyed having a couple of cold ones, listening to everyone talk about the races that day and just relaxing at a regatta. I also went kite boarding for the first time. Damn, I wish I had discovered that 20 years ago. But, “never too late”, and “nothing like the present” so I am into it. But, I also like the 49ers. I could see getting one myself.
This weekend I am sailing my new Star, for the first time, in Santa Barbara for the Lipton Cup. There is a Lipton Cup in every club it seems, but this is the REAL Lipton Cup. Austin Sperry, who with John Dane, has won the Bacardi Cup, the North Americans, and a few other events this year, is coming out to tune me up. I need it.
I thought the plan was to relax after the Volvo! It could be so easy to get too much on my plate again. 49er, kite boarding, TP 52, Star Worlds in San Francisco in September, and I need to get back to my flying. I am concerned that I just never seem to learn.