It’s nearly the weekend and a late blast of Indian summer is arguably in place in Cowes – a chance maybe for some Laser sailing before Mr Frost makes an appearance and perhaps a quick tinker (read: spending more money in the chandlery) ahead of the last race next Saturday of the double-handed series. Oh wind the clock back to early July please and those long summer days…
Well, thanks to the International Maxi Association, they’ve done that for us visually and sent through the latest fabulous photos from St Tropez where they really know how to round off the European season in style.
Beautiful boats sailing in beautiful waters with wonderful watering holes and a ‘joie de vivre’ that is everything French. It’s a heavenly playground. And just to see the old ‘French Kiss,’ the Philippe Briand design from 1985 that was dramatically modified with a chainsaw to its stern back in the day (thankfully replaced) sends the memory into overdrive. If you don’t love the 12 Metres, there’s not a lot our sport can do for you…
And George David’s Rambler 88 was a having a ball, winning the day with that wily old fox Brad Butterworth doing the whispering and saying afterwards in his mischievous laconic Kiwi tones:
“Can you believe it? George is pleased. He said we did a good job today. He’s pretty excited. It was all good. The start was a big deal. You had to get your nose out. There was a bit of reaching and then it was a bit cracked. It suited the big boats – the rich got richer. We got ahead with Comanche and we tried to stick with them as much as we could. Carpet had a bit of a shocker, which worked for us.”
…and guess who was onboard? Well none other than Ernesto Bertarelli who is back in big time sailing in more ways than one. No longer hiding away on the lakes blasting around on the freshwater snow-melt in fast foiling cats, he’s easing himself back onto the circuit.
Great to see and Ernesto is no doubt thoroughly enjoying the St Tropez lifestyle and an all-out Alinghi reunion – Peter Holmberg is racing on the J-Class, Murray Jones is on Jethou and it’s no surprise that he and Brad are on the same horse this week…some say Brad never left Alinghi and you can be absolutely sure that he’ll be right in the mix at AC37.
Exciting to see the band back together…let’s see if they can get a tune again and whether it will be rock ‘n’ roll or classical that they play.
Comanche was the one taking line honours yesterday and their pot-hunting season is in full flow now but there was a good bit of seamanship on display aside from the blast around the racecourse as skipper Mitch Booth explained:
“There was some drama on board when a crew fell off the bow. However swift action by the crew meant they were able to recover him before he passed the transom. If we we’d have been on a 60 footer, he would have been past the back of the boat!”
Meanwhile down in Cadiz, the next generation that will define St Tropez regattas for years to come are preparing for the final European leg of the SailGP season – if Covid policies have their way, it could be the final regatta before the finale in San Francisco in March. The Australian shin-dig pencilled in for mid-December could go either way depending on politics – surely government elimination strategies with the Delta variant are a fantasy but who am I to say?
Let’s hope Sydney happens as it would be a perfect venue. For now it’s the wonderfully visual spectacle of Cadiz – a port that the British blockaded during the Napoleonic wars from 1797 until the Treaty of Amiens and all eyes are on the Brits for a good performance this weekend.
With Hannah Mills onboard, the greatest female sailing athlete of all time, and a wholly-owned turn-key franchise in his back pocket, Ben has all the aces. But you get a strong sense that everyone is fighting for their lives out in Cadiz. It’s the ultimate shop window.
Pete & Blair desperately need a good performance. Tom Slingsby wants to masterclass the regatta and go pole position in the AC driver-story. And Nathan Outteridge will be putting everything on the line to force his way into AC teams’ reckoning. The Spanish will want to put on a good show and the French, with a new driver, have something to prove.
It’s going to be an electric, explosive regatta the likes of which we haven’t seen before with just so much on the line and a subtext that you simply couldn’t make up. Wonderful show.
Meanwhile as a frustrated boxing writer, I’ll be up before dawn to catch the Tyson Fury / Deontay Wilder fight at the T-Mobile stadium in Las Vegas early on Sunday morning. The bookies have Tyson by a country mile…I’m not so sure. Deontay looks fit and determined whilst the Gypsy King is coming in almost 20lbs heavier than his magnificent fighting physique when they last met almost two years ago.
Like SailGP, I just can’t call the fight. I’m hoping for a Tyson win, like I’m hoping for Ben, our sailing heavyweight, to win in Cadiz.
What a great weekend of sport…and there’s F1 too. Don’t tell the wife…