life of lia


August 31st – Entry deadline for the ‘Barcelona World Race’

The end of the month has not arrived without warning. In fact, I have been hurtling day by day, towards the August 31st entry deadline for the ‘Barcelona World Race’ since I stepped off the rowing boat ‘Dream Maker’ on March 18th. ‘And?’ Someone emailed me this morning…

And so it turned out a few weeks ago that the entry fee is not as critical as you (and I) might have thought. Namely, that the race organizers need competitors and frankly what’s 21,400 Euros in the grand scheme of things when a one-year IMOCA 60 campaign starts at £750,000? The reality is that it’s the boat that makes the campaign a serious prospect and thereafter, you hope (and work like hell) to make everything else fall into place. Putting a non-refundable 21k on the table, without a boat to sail, isn’t going to get you anywhere.

‘So, do you have a boat?’ Ah, that frequently asked question which is usually followed quickly by ‘Do you have a co-skipper?’ And if not, ‘Can I come?’ Inevitably, with ‘Does that mean then, that it’s not happening?’ coming next!

With two well-known and accomplished Open 60 sailors onboard to advise and Alex’s Thomson’s AT Racing team kindly enabling me to show off the to-be-chartered boat, there is still time – but only just. The preparation period running up to the race will become squeezed as we head into September. Having acquired my Open 40 a mere 6 weeks before the start of the 2006 Route du Rhum and had to cram a refit and qualifier into that period, I know exactly what a last-minute campaign entails. Let’s just say that the Lia Ditton ‘Barcelona World Race’ campaign isn’t over yet and the reason is OBO, – the ‘Open Boat Orchestra.’

While we decided to postpone the official OBO ‘Meeting of the Musicians’ due to apparent summer holiday absence, there was an impromptu meeting of musicians that somehow didn’t get the message that the event at Sphere Studios was cancelled and had congregated in the local pub! While no musical advancements per se were made to the project that evening, I did go home and Google every one of the attendees out of curiosity of the caliber and type of musician that the project had somehow come to attract!

Thanks to a data file from the IMOCA 60 AORII (Jonny Malbon’s Open 60 ‘Artemis Ocean Racing II’) the following week, director of OBO Music, Mark Ty-Wharton and I were able to formulate a strategy for pairing data streams – NMEA sentences (the language standard of marine electronics) with MIDI functions (the language of music) in the first programming of the OBO Box, which will be sail-tested live on the AORII later this month. Filmmaker Richard Gooderick (http://www.gooderick.com/) will be onboard capturing the moment. If you missed the OBO proof of concept v-blog during the holidays, here it is again.

In the meantime my objective is to find investment for OBO Project Ltd and the OBO Box as a commercial product venture. If you can imagine a depth sounder that starts playing hardcore drum and bass when you’re getting into shallow water or a radar proximity alarm set to play Bach’s Suite for solo cello No. 1 in G major, when a boat is less than 5 miles away… you’ll understand the consumer interest in the OBO technology! In my research, I’ve also highlighted the following as other possible applications of the OBO Box:

  1. Entertainment – Engaging young children and teenagers, in boating in a new and interesting way
  2. Safety – Life boat drivers and race boat helms moving at pace could benefit from extra sensory, audio information
  3. As a teaching aid – Students and teachers looking to learn about the dynamics of mechanics in motion
  4. Custom alarm sounds – For short-handed sailors to the visually impaired.

While it took a surprisingly number of weeks to recover from the Atlantic Rowing Race earlier this year, a 6 week stint at the no-frills, Swiss-concept, ‘Keiser Training’ gym in North London has brought me happily back on form. I am expecting there to be some physical component to the selection trials for the Artemis Sailing Academy this month, so it’s probably just as well! Thirty-two of us have been selected with the aim, after four 3 day sessions of testing in groups of 8, to whittle that number down to a eight individuals. The number one objective of the Academy is to see British ‘race-winning’ capable campaigns competing in the solo, non-stop round the world Vendée Globe in 2016 and 2020.

Mark Tyndall, CEO, Artemis Investment Management:
“Having gone in at the top level of the single-handed racing world, it now seems prudent to go back to basics, roll up our sleeves and get started right away in helping British sailing talent on the road to future success. If we’re going to do it, we want to do it the right way and make sure we give the commitment required to put the foundations in place for the future which is why we’ve committed to a minimum of four years of support.”

Wish me luck!

And finally…
I have been nominated for the Suffolk Coastal District Council ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ award, which will be announced on September 19th. Winners automatically feed through to the countywide Suffolk Sports Awards, which lead on to the BBC East & Sport England Awards later in the year.