reach your peak

Brian Hancock is feelin’ it. Or he isn’t…

OK so I am really not sure how I feel about this one. I love the idea that sailing is becoming more mainstream and getting some prime time on television, but at the same time I find Reality TV shows a tad galling. Well more than a tad. They are the worst kind of television playing to the basest instincts of us humans desperate for any escape from our mundane lives. But at the same time it is prime time and so I will probably watch the newest Reality TV show that features five British “celebrities” (yes I used the quotation marks there on purpose) sailing a Volvo 65 around Great Britain in the middle of winter. No they are not setting sail all by themselves; they are sailing with some of the most accomplished sailors in a kind of “guided up everest experience.”

The trip that sets off next Monday March 7 from Belfast in Northern Ireland will either head north around the top of Great Britain, down the east coast and end up in London, or depending on the weather (presumably) will head south around the bottom of England and finish up in North Shields on the east coast of the UK. The voyage, known as Hell on High Seas will, according to the Volvo Ocean Race website encounter “mountainous seas and freezing cold temperatures.” and continues “the voyage promises to be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting for the celebrities, many of whom have never set foot on a racing boat before.”
Let me just point out as one who has done a number of circumnavigations including a few around Cape Horn, that the mountainous seas and freezing cold temperatures is just gratuitous hype. Most of the time out there the weather is either benignly pleasant or a bit boring. Sure every now and then a front comes through and the wind picks up, but it does not last very long and you do get to get some great video of boats getting pummeled, but take it from me, most of it is no worse than a decent day off the coast of Carolina.
Leading the team is Ian Walker, the winner of the most recent Volvo Ocean Race. He will be joined by some VOR veterans including his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crewmate Phil Harmer, Team SCA’s Dee Caffari and Sara Hastreiter, Dongfeng Race Team’s Graham Tourell and Volvo Ocean Race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante. The celebrities include Alex Jones, host of a popular BBC show called The One Show, along with fellow BBC presenters Angellica Bell and Ore Oduba, Formula 1 host Suzi Perry, stand-up comedian Hal Cruttenden and comedy actress Doon Mackichan. (Never heard of any of them but that’s probably because I don’t live in England).
The one redeeming thing about this, other than to supply a bit extra cash for sailors between races, is that the event raises money for Sport Relief (an offshoot of Comic Relief) and the money will “help transform the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world’s poorest communities.” (That was a cut and paste from the VOR website). So yes after at first being a bit skeptic about the whole exercise, I am now fully in support of it, Reality TV or not. If there are eleven people willing to spend a few damp days pounding around England on a boat without a proper bath all as a means to raise money for those less lucky that the rest of us I am all for it. I will raise a glass of beer from my cozy fireplaced office and wish the crew a speedy and safe voyage.
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