With apologies to Charles Dickens from Shanghai Sailor…
I have been honoured (or lucky perhaps) to have been invited to two quite contrasting parties these past two evenings.
Two nights ago it was the Dongfeng Race Team welcome to Sanya, and in a position that no-one just one year ago would have imagined. In fact if a Hollywood producer had received this script I am sure he would have turned it down as too fanciful.
The dinner was organized by Geoff Ryan at the Intercontinental Resort just round the corner from the marina and was on a wide jetty set well away from prying eyes and although completely out in the open was surprisingly private.
The team spirit in this team is something to behold. Prior to the dinner, in what appeared to be a completely unplanned move the sailors (apart from Black who was making sure his auntie and grannie got to the party) gathered slightly apart from shore team, family and friends gathered to help them celebrate their moment. It was a noticeable yet subtle sign of the bond these guys have developed over the past weeks yet only a short delay before the meal itself began.
The overall atmosphere felt more that of a ‘job well done’ rather than a delirious happiness, although they would have been entitled to that also. Part way through the dinner, Team Director Bruno Dubois, phone in hand, called for silence. His phone call was answered by Yann Riou, currently in France with his sick wife, they just wanted him to be able to share the moment also. Now that is a team, they leave no one out. Well almost no-one, Boat Captain Gringo was late for the party. Why? Well there were things he needed to organize for the boat before he felt he could relax. Like I say, team spirit.
The official Welcome to Sanya from the Sanya government with speechifying from the Vice Mayor, the Deputy Director of the Central Government Sports Authority and with team representatives ushered on stage to make their comments about Sanya so far.
This was followed by performances on stage from Hainan ethnic minorities.