The first of the Anarchist reports from the Boston stopever – and it’s a doozy.
“I’ve got a school boy heart, novelist’s eye, stout sailors legs and a license to fly"
There’s no better way to celebrate a good day on the water than with a cold beer and a good cigar. On any other boat, the crew can do this on the dock, chatting about the day and telling lies the way we always do. This, however, wasn’t just another day, and it certainly wasn’t any old boat. Not by a long shot. Today was the day I was invited to be a crewmember on the VO 70 Green Dragon for the Pro-Am Race in Boston’s Inner Harbor. How could I say no to this? The forecasted winds in excess of 20 knots had materialized, along with thousands of people, hoping to see some fast boats and lots of carnage. In consideration of the high winds and limited sea room, Volvo Management and the skippers wisely decided to change the format of the Pro-Am day to two boat drag racing, instead of a more traditional full fleet buoy race. Fastest elapsed time over a reach to reach course would win a big bottle of Moet champagne. This had never been tried before, but we were all excited to give it a go.
I’ve sailed lots of races in my life, but this was the first time I’ve had a send off from the dock with hordes of screaming people and U2’s Elevation being blasted over the PA. Puma may be the hometown boat, but Green Dragon is a sentimental favorite, and plenty of well wishers were decked out in Dragon gear cheering us on to impending victory. Skipper Ian Walker, along with Johnny Mordaunt, Tom Braidwood, Damian Foxall, Andrew Mc Lean, Phil Harmer, and Justin Slattery seemed to truly enjoy sailing with each other and their enthusiasm was quickly spread to a mix of sponsors, Volvo dignitaries, and even a hack like me. Anyone was allowed to drive, even during the races. In contrast, some of Puma’s “amateurs” included the likes of Paul Cayard and Michel Desjoyeaux. Even though we sailed with a reef and J-4 only, the sailing was amazing. Legs were about .6 miles each and the fastest elapsed time for the 4 leg course was around 6 ½ minutes by Puma. We averaged mid teens, topping out at near 20 knots in a 32 knot puff. We even won our last race to finally exorcise the “curse of the Dragon” that had been following the team since Rio. Ian thinks this is the start of a new trend for the team and even the pros onboard were excited to hand a defeat to Delta Lloyd. The race format was perfectly suited to shoreside spectating. It was short, exciting, and easy to understand. Maybe the sailing establishment needs to understand that instead of getting people to understand sailing, sailing should begin to understand people. To that end, dock talk amongst team bosses and Volvo management was that this format of racing will be adopted as the new standard for pro-am races at all future stopovers. Not only that, it was fun! After a career of windward-leewards, drag racing was a refreshing change that brought smiles to all of our faces, pros and amateurs alike.