From Alicante With Love

I was invited to the Volvo Ocean Race “Legend’s Regatta” in Alicante, Spain. The Regatta was a bit of an ingenious marketing idea, which turned into a run-a-way success. Basically with only 6 Volvo 70s registered and a Boston Consulting Group report that said the Volvo had become too far separated from this rich history, the organizers were looking for improvement.

The report indicated that with all of the modern communications and X-Games marketing, the race had lost a bit of its mystique. In the old days the sailors were hard-core adventurers who were truly sailing into the unknown and discovering how big the world really was by sailing around it! An idea to invite all of those ‘old sailors’ back was floated and the “Legend’s Regatta” was born.

The regatta was open to all who sailed or worked in any of the Whitbread or Volvos. They were hoping for maybe 8-10 boats and around 100 people. Instead - they ended up with 16 boats and over 600 people. As a matter of fact the prize giving had to be moved to the international ferry terminal because that was the only building big enough to host the sold out crowd.

For the sailing we had Heineken there and the owner Johannes Schwarz was gracious enough to let all 21 'Lady Legend's' (sailors from Maiden, Heineken, EF and Assa Abloy) race his boat. It was very cool to step onto a boat with that caliber of sailor. Most of the women I had sailed extensively, either around the world or in the Americas Cup or other long term projects but others I had not seen for quite a few years. To be truthful that would be 20 years, as in when we finished Maiden.

The social side was fun too. The Kiwis on Camper invited all of the Lady Legends to their pavilion for a special drinks party. I saw Kenny Reed when I was on my way and he was kicking himself – “Why didn’t we think of that!” ☺. Ah flattery. Grant Dalton took a different take on the flatter - throwing the bus on friends of his in the meantime. He was heard saying: “Tracy (Edwards) you’ve held up alright. Shoobie said you were a bit of a train wreck” He went on from there but I can’t put it all in print. (disclaimer this is second hand and all in a bit of fun)

When we were hanging at The Legend’s Bar or just walking down the dock we were all constantly running into old friends. Steinelager was there and she looked beautiful. Pippa Blake was having a great time. The Volvo Band was once again running with Tony Rey, Johnny LaBon, and Howard Gibbons?! ☺. Gloria Borrego’s laugh could be heard at all times. Also very cool to see so many “Volvo Relationships” going strong. Katie and Ratty, Jeni and Spike, Emma and Mike, Lisa and Neil – many now have kids!

Back to the sailing; Day one was very light. The racing was pursuit format but we elected to start with the other 2 VOR 60s and then receive a time correction at the end. This is something that is done at some events like Porto Cervo’s Perini Navi Cup.

Well the line was a big odd and the wind was super light and there was a little bit of cross current pushing us over the line. Assa Abloy got to the pin (which was the windward end of the line - yes weird) too early and had to bail. Roy Heiner’s team was to windward of us and ignored our presence let alone our luff so we were in a tight position, aiming at the pin, sliding sideways towards the line. Roy had to bail with less than a minute to go as he had sailed by the pin and then it was up to us to hold our nerve. The match racing really helped and counting down every second until literally 3 when we pulled the trigger were barely able to get the bow down below the pin and start – way ahead of the other two boats. Phew! That was the excitement. The rest of the race was very very light and they eventually abandoned it but it was so much fun to get sails up and down and work in a coordinated fashion with 4 teams forming one.

Day two was a completely different scenario. We were able to win the start again and the winds were much higher in the 18 -20 knot range but very shifty. The course was about 30 miles and as were on the beat up to the turning mark the wind was gusting pretty solid into the 30s. The sun was already slanting and the spray was aligning with the rays of the lowered sun. I had a urge to just keep going. Heineken was handling perfectly and I thought for a moment. There is nowhere in the world that I would rather be at this moment!

Turns out the turn was a good idea because we screamed downwind and again Heineken handled beautifully getting some great surfs. Yes… this might be something to do again. I’m not old. I’m certainly not old enough to be a ‘Legend’ so I might just consider another lap… thoughts?