If timing is everything, then we missed on this one! Good stuff regardless.
Glenn Ashby is one of the most accomplished multi-hull sailors in the world, and his current job is certainly his biggest challenge yet. Ashby is tasked with coaching BMW Oracle to victory with the giant trimaran, and his incredible winning record and solid communication style make him the perfect guy for the job. Anarchist Surf City Catamarans put together this interview using questions from the Anarchists as well as his own knowledge, so his meandering style had to stay slightly on task, but it’s a solid Innerview with a good snapshot into Ashby’s life as part of BMW/Oracle Racing.
SA: Let’s jump right in. First, so I get it right ,what do you guys call the boat?
GA: We really don’t have a name for it, we just call it the B-O-R 90, or the 9-0. I started calling it that in my reports and way back when I first started and it just sort of stuck, I guess. I just put it out there a few times and everyone started calling it that.
SA: Are you having fun with those guys?
GA: Yeah, mate it’s awesome. It’s really, really good fun, It’s certainly a lot of excitement and learning lots all the time; we’re putting as much effort as we all can to make sure we all get out there and do the job. Of course it’s a hell of a lot of work, but it’s such a great thing to be a part of. Everyone’s putting their money’s worth into it, and so we can achieve the ultimate result at the end of the day. It really is a lot of money and a lot of time that everyone puts into it. It’s a lot of personalities, and a lot of fun. It’s a great life experience that I’ll never forget or regret.
SA: You’ve done a lot of shit in your life, and this experience is really going to round out your resume, isn’t it?
GA: I know. I shouldn’t complain about the hours are long and hard, whether you’re in front of a computer or out on the water sometimes you just have to step back and pinch yourself and say, shit man, this is really cool.
SA: Other than this, what have been some of your most memorable moments in your vast sailing career?
GA: Probably the most memorable moments would have been winning my first world championship on my first ever trip to Europe at the age of 18 sailing the A class catamaran against the current Gold and silver medalist in the Tornado class and against 86 other competitors in L‘Estartit, Spain in 1996. Looking back, I really was just a kid and had only been sailing A class catamarans for 3 months prior to the worlds. It certainly was an eye opener on and off the water and definitely gave me the travel bug for future events and overseas competition.
Winning my first Tornado worlds in Argentina sailing with Bundock in Dec 2006 with all the countries fighting out for Olympic selection was also one of the highlights of my career, especially using my own sails!
The Olympic games in China for me would have to be also one of the mist memorable moments after a life long ambition to get there. Winning a medal looking back now over 12 months later, was just a bonus.
SA: Speaking of the Olympics, how involved are you or will you be in the fight to get multihulls back in the Olympics?
GA: I will be like all other multi-hull sailors, super keen to see the multi-hull be represented in the 2016 games.
SA: If we do get a multi back in the big O, do you think it should stay as the Tornado or go F18/Tiger or A class?
GA: Definitely not A class. But I would not be against a single-handed high performance multi-hull. I don’t mind if it was a Tornado or one design F18 either. I think as long as the multi-hull is represented, I don’t mind what type. Personally If I could choose a boat, a light weight very high performance double hander that can be sailed by an average weight and size sailor that can be purchased all over the world easily would be a good choice.
SA: With multi-hulls out of the Olympics for 2012, what are your plans outside of the A-class and F-18’s?
GA: I have just purchased an RS:X sailboard to see if I can sail it and will look to do some regattas next year. I am also obviously very busy working with Oracle for the next Americas Cup.
SA: If Catamarans are reinstated into the Olympics, will you resume your campaign to win that Gold?
GA: Yes I will indeed.
SA: Let’s change gears a bit. Are you currently running your business Ashby Sails as well as working with BMW ORACLE?
GA: Yes, the business is still running well and my wife Melissa is keeping it under control whilst I am working with the team. We have many good people working with us to ensure the quality and performance.
SA: Speaking of your wife Mel, I know you had a little girl a few months ago.
GA: Yeah, a little girl. She’s doing really well, she just turned 6 months old just a couple of weeks ago. She’s growing really quick, and I’m just loving being a dad. My wife Mel and little one Loni are still there back in Australia. Hopefully they’ll come over in a couple of weeks mate and we could all catch up with your crew.
SA: Well congratulations on that, they definitely grow fast!
SA: With the amount of F18 racing that you currently do, are you considering designing and building boats for this class? Will there be an Ashby F-18?
GA: Not in the near future that’s for sure, maybe one day when I am too old to get on the trapeze I will have a go at that! Maybe 10, 15 years time, certainly, but I’ve got so many other things going on right now. The sail-making side of it I enjoy, and I love doing the A-cats as well. I’m sort of thinking at the moment that with the way sailing is going with the cup stuff and windsurfing I think I’m going to take more of a back seat for the next 5 or 10 years and just concentrate on my sailing career. When I get a bit older and my body’s not bouncing back as well, maybe I’ll look at spending more time on that side of the business. In a couple of years things might change, but at the moment I’m happy where I am. It’s a hell of a lot of work to design and build and it’s very, very expensive, and it’s a tough market.
SA: Let’s talk about the transition from the smaller multis that you’re used to and these giant multis. First, do you like the fact that this AC will raced on state of the art multi-hulls?
GA: Absolutely! For me it is the pinnacle of big multihull racing and technology. I have been playing with model trimarans and catamarans since I was a child and to be able to play with one full scale and even over size, is incredible. Being able to work alongside some of the best designers, builders and sailors and be part of one of the world’s best teams is a fantastic experience in sailing and in life.
SA: How much of the foil technology that both teams are using will be able to translate into Acats in the future?
GA: I think the big boys learn from the little boys and vice-versa. Many of the ideas for big boats world-wide get trialed initially on little ones.
SA: What differences, and adjustments have you had to think about between sailing smaller cats and the 90? On some levels it’s a big Acat but there must be some giant differences?
GA: For sure some things are very similar, but some are also vastly different. The loads on the big boat are simply mind blowing. That is the scary part for me. The speed and the actual sail part is no worries. Standing next to blocks and parts that have loads measured in the tens of tons is a bit different to what I have experienced in the past. However, the boat is engineered and built to take the loads the same as a small boat is. So you need to trust the engineers and the designers have done their job. I think I could bulid a pretty nice A cat if I had our team behind me! Things also happen a lot slower on the big boat on the water sailing but have a much more serious consequence if they go wrong. The big boat really is just a little one that has taken steroids!
SA: Speaking of the engineers, I heard you take them sailing on a pair of Wildcat F18s to help them to understand the functions of the boat?