Saturday, 7 May 2011

Big boys' boat

Camper web site . . . My Flickr photos

A 9am start on a dreary day, to see the Volvo boat Camper. It's sponsored by a European shoe company, designed and built in NZ, and crewed by a squad of Emirates Team New Zealand hot shots. The junior crew member is the current world match racing champion, just as an example of the depth this team can call on. Dean Barker made an appearance at the open day, fresh from the Extreme 40s series in Europe. What a life, eh?

Well, actually, I'd rather have his travel and pressure than life in a Volvo 70 crew. Shifting all the gear on the boat before every tack, then swapping bunks to the new high side, all meals being a bucket of freeze-dry, everything wet, cold, and noisy; it's a bit much for a gent of my tastes.

Oh, I forgot; the story of a crew member sitting in the hull sewing a sail repair, between bouts of seasickness, also played a part in my aversion to ocean racing. "Like standing under a cold shower, fully clothed, tearing up $100 notes" is another description - I suspect its author was a veteran of a Whitbread/Volvo race.

The nearest I've seen to this level of total commitment is Himalayan mountaineering; not that I've done it myself, but I know some Everest types who've been on expeditions that match this for danger, dampness, hardship, and terror. And cost, I suspect. Funny people, humans.

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