Kevin Hall, formerly of the Artemis AC program, shares his perspective on the death of former team mate Andrew Simpson.
We were sailing upwind on starboard tack, and getting out near the layline. The other boat was close on my hip. It was lumpy, about 12 knots of wind, more pressure on the layline, and the two of us were pretty far out in front. The run would be tricky, however – easy to get swallowed up as we sailed away from the pressure at the top mark. As we got close to the layline I started looking over my shoulder at the Finn to windward of me:
“If he goes just a little early, maybe i’ll have him at the top, but I’ll have to roll into a tack immediately with him. Of course, if he takes us both way past the layline, and we do get swallowed up, he’ll still beat me but he won’t close out the regatta this race ” (one more to go).
About two lengths shy of layline, just as I look over he rolls into a tack so I put the helm down and get ready to duck under that boom – or does he tack? I have to tack back to avoid him still coasting on starboard – and off he sails to the mark, having ensured he still has a big jump on the rest of the fleet, and a comfortable lead on me. And chuckling a bit too.
“I was a little surprised you hadn’t seen that one before!” Bart said over our first of many beers that evening. He had come to Fort Lauderdale to help the 2003 US Finn Fleet get a clue. Sure, it’s nice in Florida in December, but you can’t fake wanting to be out on the water in a Finn, and you sure as hell can’t fake wanting to help others learn more of what you know while undoubtedly also having so much fun sharing that knowledge.
Andrew’s memorial service last month was a fitting sendoff for a truly great man. As we gathered later that afternoon to celebrate him, under the bright sunshine in the beautiful Sherbourne countryside, a few things kept coming up in conversation. One was clearly competitive-sailing oriented : “it’s not often you’re with so many sailors and would be more than happy with midfleet!” and the slight variant “just imagine all the miles of sailing done as well as it can possibly be done which are represented here!”.
The other main theme which felt more right to say, and hear, at the time than it ever will be to read, write, or even think again, is that it is a real shame that it took something like that for us all to be together. That came up more than the midfleet comments and more than the sea miles comment, and for good reason. It’s one of those notions that’s very hard to argue with.
America’s Cup 34 starts over, or for real, or just plain FINALLY. After all the controversy, and the meta-controversy about what started the controversy ; after the divide between those who believe the world is owed the truth about the AC72 capsizes and those that believe it will never be known ; after the fascinating discussions with manifold valid perspectives but one final and just decision…
For me, today is still about the legacy of a great man and his family. Comment.