keeping it real

I read Brian Hancock’s latest piece from a few days ago with interest and for once I agreed with large parts of it.
Particularly when he mentioned Witty. I had heard of his unpopularity in Hong Kong before Scallywag had even entered the event and I would be the first to admit I allowed my opinion of him to be coloured by others.
I first met him in person during the Hong Kong stopover when I walked up to him and introduced myself as Shanghai Sailor. “You’re the guy who wrote those bad things about me” he said. “Only what I have been told” said I. The next day our paths crossed once more and he raised his hand and shouted “Hi Shanghai”. Clearly not a man to hold a grudge.
Next time was in Guangzhou at the crew party where we had a face to face (almost nose to nose) – totally non-confrontational I hasten to add – and we agreed to have a ‘conversation’ at some point. That is still to happen, it’s been a bit whirlwind since the finish in Den Haag but I sincerely believe he deserves his side to be told. In between then and when we next bumped into each other the race had been completed and he had tragically lost his best mate, John ‘Fish’ Fisher. This time it was “David” and (“my real name” rather than non de plume). He has gone through a life altering experience and I firmly believe he should be cut some slack. Many in Hong Kong still have the same attitude about him which, frankly, I think is unfair. Is he still ‘arrogant’ – not to me, but then again, I treat his as David not some pariah who is (and I have no trouble admitting this) a hell of a much better sailor than I am.
That conversation WILL happen at some point. When, I am not sure but, at worst, he is a bloke. He is a character, and in truth the race needs characters and hopefully we see more of the likes of him in future editions of The Ocean Race.
Where I start to disagree with Brian’s article is where he says Mark Chisnell is “right on. Mapfre should have won.”
Sorry but the boat with the best score is always the winner, isn’t it?
And finishing “off the breakwater”? – plenty wind “off the breakwater” in The Hague, perhaps the problem is finishing up estuaries and the resultant re-start.
Following his logic about not finishing ocean races in windless situations “Team Brunel might well have been the overall winner had they not been pipped by Mapfre at the post in drifting conditions in Newport”.
Well actually had the Mapfre/Brunel situation been reversed in Newport it would have meant a 2 point swing to Brunel, Brunel finished 4 points behind Dongfeng so I fail to see how, had they not been “pipped”, would have turned them into overall winners.
DFRT was leading into the windless zone in Newport which Mapfre won while DFRT dropped to 4th. Following Mr Hancock’s statement about shortening that would have been a 4 point swing in DFRT’s favour and the race to Den Haag would not have been the all or nothing cliff hanger.
It is what it is.
Then again the world is full of “what ifs”. What will be remembered however is of course the “what was”! What is that expression about lies, damn lies and statistics? Can’t have it both ways Brian.
Would I be saying anything different if the shoe had been on the other foot? Would I? I even had a “ well done Mapfre” piece already sketched out as we left the dock to go meet the boats less than an hour before the finish even though the line of sight tracker was showing a different picture to reality.
And that “oh shit moment”? Mapfre blinked?
Some say that half the winning of a yacht race is before you leave the dock. As I have mentioned in a previous article Charles and Pascal sat with Marcel Van Trieste in Gothenburg to look at their Leg 11 weather game plan. DFRT had planned their move to the east and the Danish coast even before the Gothenburg dock out and confidently made the move, Mapfre were clearly undecided.
I am sure it wasn’t a blink and to suggest otherwise in some ways belittles the thought processes of the afterguard on Mapfre. They made, I am sure, a considered decision and perhaps the “Oh Shit” moment came later as they approached the final turning mark to see the Dongfeng off to starboard on their A.I.S. instead off to port as they would have hoped.
Let’s keep it real, because if we don’t, it’s just another work of fiction. – Shanghai Sailor.