Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Dragon boats

2009 is the year of the Dragon. That's great, because the year I was born was also the year of the Dragon, it all fits and it's another sign... I've always kept a look out for signs and I still regret not following that eagle in Garda. Anyway my horoscope says that I will prosper at work and in love. It also tells me to keep my head down.

Didn't mention the race course though, although that could be work, and keeping my head down might be gybing. You never know.

Anyway I'm at the McConaghy factory in Zhuhai working on three little Dragons. The quality of these machines is great and the team here are professional and really nice people, a couple of French, several Australians, a Brit, but the majority of course are Chinese. All the Chinese employees have Western names which is odd and I don't see any reason too, I can pronounce their real names fine.

And so by way of respect, I have given Andrew and myself Chinese names. I have not been flippant and thought hard about it. At 76 kilo's Amac gets "Chin to phat! and after the i-phone incident I get "Wai u dim"

It's great to be at McConaghy's, not only to finally see and touch the boats but to meet the people who are making them. The atmosphere here is good, long hours have already been worked and what Andrew, Mark and the team here have already achieved is remarkable. We have a way to go, the midnight oil is being burned and we arrived home so late last night that even the late night restaurants were shut. Dinner came from a Chinese version of "Iceland" which may be a bad example, because like the country, I think they too have gone into receivership, but you get my drift.

Anyway I chose my dinner because it had Jackie Chan on the front. Bad idea. All I can say is that man has a very unfortunate diet and those things have one use only.

I had my first "cosmetic dither" today. I knew this would happen as I've always liked great looking boats and appreciated good design, but I saw the tapered booms... And I'm sorry, but things that beautiful shouldn't be on a boat. I may try to get a second hand one and keep the good one for my wall.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Stoned henge

Mid winter has always been a time to celebrate around the world. Centuries before the arrival of a man called Jesus, this was in fact a Pagan festival.

Europeans celebrated light and dark, and as most of the cattle had been slaughtered, this was the only time of year when there was fresh meat. In Scandinavia fathers and sons would bring home logs, which often would burn for twelve days, each spark delivering the promise of a new pig. In Germany people were so scared of the pagan God Oden, who they believed flew silently amongst them at night, deciding who would live and who would die, that they chose to stay in side.

So Jesus's timing was good that's all. He gate crashed a ready made party.

And how its changed... My little town of Emsworth, where earlier that day I'd shopped at the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker looked like Sin City last night. Things were broken. Puss and dried booze stained the pavement and the air was a mix of cheap aftershave and cigarette smoke. Pink skinned fully fuelled semi naked girls walked vagina first from pub to pub.

Tomorrow I will sail in an empty Chichester harbour. Bugger the sales and the cold, I'm going to pull off a few gybes and get back into it. After a tough 08 I'm looking forward to doing well in 09, but in order to perform at the Australian Nationals I'll have to forget I've been in a winter for several months. I'll have to fly like Oden.

On Friday I go to China. But tonight.. I'm going into Emsworth..

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

All my life, watching America

Until I saw this stupid stupid woman exhibiting all the ingredients of the US foreign policy

Rachel Maddow

You need to put up with the Boeing "We know why we are here..." (Yawn) ad for a few seconds.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

All I want for Christmas is you.

This is McCongaghy's China Director Mark Evans and the team holding a couple of Mach 2's and some bits.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The older you get, the better you get, unless you are a banana.

1988 was quite a year for me. My all time sporting hero Ayrton Senna won the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship for the first time, Flo Jo mesmerised me on the track, and in Calgary Eddie the Eagle didn't so much as soar as plummet from a great height, as if he actually was a short sighted plasterer from Cheltenham.

I remember when Senna died. I heard in a café when I had just finished a yacht race to France ("Oui, Un Café au Late, err no milk please") and on hearing the news drank a crate of beer and nearly missed England on the way home. Flo Jo's tragically short life was over almost as quickly as her races but, and here's some news, Eddie the eagle is in fact still working as plasterer in Cheltenham.

Anyway all this was a very long time ago.

But in 1988 Jason Belben was competing in the Olympics. Charlie McKee won Bronze and Ossie Stewart and I were 470 tune up there. And had a great holiday watching.

I guess the point is, we are all still competing, in Moths. And doing OK.

I don't know why it is. Charlie for example should be spending his old age in the Golden State where sunshine is guaranteed to the masses, all dogs have therapists and looks are so important that women are not allowed to drive in house coats or without make up.

Yet he's just won SIRS and I note that as we get faster the average age is going through the roof. Sure you can argue that having a higher disposable income at this age means you can afford the boat, but that's no barrier, be creative and put a kidney on eBay.

There are other reasons, lots of them. From the desire to speed up evolution and fly a few million cheeky years before God intended to having something to grasp on to as you teeter unexpectedly between love and madness. But these days, and especially if you're a banker, its probably more fun and in fact easier than trying to cheat a polygraph test.

But for some, in this world of rules, run by abominable "No" men, this is the only place to still let it rip.

Anyway any conclusion? Not really, except I was thinking about all this as I stood today with Mike Lennon waiting for the rain to stop and the wind to rise to just a tenth of the 55 knots it was earlier. It didn't and as I waited I reflected at the futility of my day. Why wasn't I in that little bar in London with a tall drink and even longer legs for company... My conclusion? Well I'm still keener on winning than err.. women, and well you do have to try, and I figure that in order to get to what's at the end of the rainbow, you have to put up with a little rain first ;-)

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

If you find that you're falling behind, keep me in mind, sweetheart.

Bournemouth airport has never been "International". Its only ever been used by Englishman and people from the Channel Islands. It always made me laugh when I drove past and saw the fairly recently added "International" sign. It's like the terms "Liquid Gas", "Jumbo Shrimp" and "Known Secret". It just doesnt work somehow..

But then I went there the other day and it was like the Outlander Club in Star Wars. There were people carrying donkeys, women on leads and people wearing tents. And all this in Dorset, where my Gran used to live. But I think it's perfectly acceptable. This country has always been about change, A constantly diluted mix of an early Italian/French/German/Anglo recipe. I think that's very good as I'm really French, and all the true Anglo Saxons I know have a pronounced forehead and non matching eyes. Best to be avoided actually. Mainly they are on tills.

And the early core ingredients of the Moth class, that of an Anglo Australian monopoly has just seen such a change. The Americans arrived in New South Wales in the same way that Norman the Conqueror arrived over here with a massive three out of four in the Sydney International Regatta and one in the eye for you mate. The Australians must be distraught. Scott sailed well but by all accounts a limping crab would have been quicker to the leeward mark, John Harris didn't fire on all cylinders until the last two races, and most of the rest simply retired. Alot.

Of course this isn't the real thing and they still inexplicably don't have their best sailor sailing, but we'll see, times may warrant it. Maverick finally re engaged when all his mates were getting shot down.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Chinese New Year

On the 28th December Amac and I arrive in Zhuhai to oversee the finishing of our two boats. Will then sail in the Australian National Championships starting on the 20th January in Geelong near Melbourne.

That means New Year in Zhuhai! Ha, that's a first and I'm looking forward to it.

But maybe I might drag Amac to Wanchai that night, where we can party like rockstars, and we'll get into night clubs because I'll tell everyone I'm with Keith Richards.

Hopefully we will leave on the 6th January for Melbourne and a few days training before the event. Amacs boat is called "Black Betty" and mine is called..err "Maid in China"