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Instantaneous Reflections

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 28 Aug 23:00 BST
Reflections indeed © Flávio Perez

The gold foil wrap was easy. The opaque, light teal fresh water in Lake Neuchatel was a tremendous addition, as well. So many thanks to SSL Gold Cup Team Brazil's Media Manager, Flávio Perez, for sharing his images with us. It certainly was pretty as a picture out there.

After the training week, the crew of Team Australia all slid off to various parts of the planet. Some of the things they have done include Tom Slingsby and Sam Newton going off to Copenhagen for the SailGP, and Tom Burton who went to Halifax, Canada, for the 49er North American Championship, where he and bowman, Simon Hoffman, placed second. Nice work!

Mat Belcher was one of several whose next port of call was Australia. He has just finished racing on Ichi Ban at Hamilton Island Race Week, where they won Division One under ORC and were third under IRC.

Now just as the instantaneous reflections had been so vivid, colourful, and real, for me there have been others that share the very same attributes, but have taken more time to distil. Possibly in direct proportionality with the number of days that have slipped by since our days at the picturesque Grandson, Switzerland. Yes, the memories are certainly stored in 5k.

Quite likely, the last race against the Argentineans sums up the week. Wonderful gybes, charging into the leeward gate, and the result comes down to less than a length. Undoubtedly, the pointy end of the finals regatta in Bahrain is going to be a lot like this too. There are many good crews, and lots of hunger for the grand prize, as well.

Undoubtedly, the overarching thing for me has been the inclusion. Yes, I knew most of the sailors well already, and it wasn't about me. It was that there was an almost Three Musketeers notion to it. You know, 'All for one, and one for all!'

That spirit got me to thinking, for I was a schoolboy in 1983, and that galvanised us all like nothing else. No matter what you thought of him or his politics, the sight of our Prime Minister in his 'Australia' sports jacket is about as indelible in your memory, as a radioactive isotope is in the scans delivered by nuclear medicine.

For sure, Australian sailors have blitzed in World Championships, Olympic Games, America's Cup, SailGP, RTW races and major offshore events, but none of them really have the same power, or in-your-face Chutzpah as the KA-6 days. That is until now, potentially.

Yes, the SSL Gold Cup does mean that much. It's not corporate, and the teams are not so much pay packet-, as pride-driven. It feels a little like war. A person defending their homeland is always harder to displace than an occupying force or mercenary. And yes, immediately, I say hello to all the Ukrainians who are part of the shore crew, and thank you so very much for sharing your stories with me at base camp, and also in the transport to Geneva.

Now if we come back to the theme, and the six day learning curve at Grandson was way steeper than the nearly two decades of the Sir Frank Packer and Alan Bond eras, but look at the result. For sure there were some hiccups early on, but Team Australia never retired a kite. A bit of stickyback and it was fine, whereas others ran over them with seemingly great regularity, and there were a lot of new whales' nighties created day in, day out. The A2s being swapped in and out of the bows of the tenders could well be my most vivid memory, and the pile awaiting the sailmakers back at the marina was like some nautical totem pole.

Driving from the accommodation to Grandson, and then back again each day with Team Captain, John Bertrand AO, was a delight. He would talk about observing the ever-improving 'orchestrated ballet' on board with a true passion. One that was so addictive as to have me observing these great sailors, at the top of the game, not so much in awe, as in appreciation.

Rounds of applause and WooHooooos on board our chase boat were common, and I must thank Team Coach, Ben Durham, as well for his thoughts, theorems and comments. It was definitely special to be there. To see it. To be involved. And now after the fact, to appreciate it all that much more... Nice.

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's websites for you. Simply use the search box, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into Sail-World.com

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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