Well what a couple of weeks for the sport of sailing in this country. 3 golds and a silver medal at Weymouth and the millions of eyeballs on our sport! The challenge now for those administering the sport is to capitalize on this success and to use it to put ‘bums in boats’. And as usual it is left up to me to come up with some solutions. We need to start by making the sailors themselves more commercially appealing. Now don’t get me wrong – Tom Slingsby, Matt Belcher , Malcolm Page et al are all wonderful young men – polite, clean cut, well presented and thoroughly likeable boy next door types. And therein lies the problem. Marketability. This ’gosh, shucks, we want to thank everybody’ nice guy persona does not grab the headlines like someone telling the world how great they are. Our sailors need to work on their post victory celebrations. The humble smile, wave to the crowd and wave a flag act is all very well, yet contrast it with the celebrations of a certain 6 foot 5 Jamaican’s post-race antics.
Sure Pagey did a backflip out of the boat but what it needs is some real pizzazz – a bit more Hollywood. As soon as they hit the beach they should have done a synchronized lightning bolt pose, before snatching the TV camera and filming the crowd. They should have slipped off their Slam sailing boots and thrown them in to the crowd (mind you being hit in the face with a soggy sailing boot probably isn’t the same as a being hit by a Nike spike – but it wouldn’t hurt as much!) before declaring at their press conference that they are the greatest ever and ‘Lead-johns’! Humility clearly has no place in professional sport.
Look at the girls in the match racing with their silver medal. What is with all this overwhelming joy at winning the silver medal and this congratulating the winners business? This overt happiness and enjoying themselves? Where were the tears, the talk of failure and of letting the country down? The ‘we came for gold, not silver’ talk and it’s not how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose attitude? Works for the swimmers after all, but then again swimming itself is seen as a form of failure in the sport of sailing.
We need to ‘bad boy’ up the sailors a bit. A few ‘full sleeve tattoos, and when they peel of their shirts (should be mandatory after every race) they reveal a huge shark tattooed on their backs and pierced nipples. The college haircuts must go replaced by dyed locks and that bang combed across the forehead look so favoured by members of boy bands and both my sons. Without this you cannot justify the head flick every 5 seconds. This I am lead to believe by watching the King and his mates is clearly uber cool. That or they appear to have some sort of facial tick.
Just look at the celebratory excesses of the more celebrated sports like swimming and running. Our swimmers were seen slurping $2000 cocktails whilst across town at another night club Usain Bolt was buying bottles of champagne worth $250,000 before retiring to his penthouse with the entire Swedish women’s hand ball team. Contrast this to the Aussie sailors. They went to the local pub with their Mums. By the way does anyone know exactly how many girls there are in a Handball team?
Next Tuesday is a day I look forward to all year. For on that day Oceans, with yours truly in command, departs Brisbane on our annual offshore trip to the Whitsundays. This is one of the great sailing voyages of the world. No, not because I will be there, but for the great trade wind sailing and the truly spectacular coastline we will pass along. We leave Moreton Bay, sailing along the Sunshine Coast and up past Fraser Island before rounding Breaksea Spit. We then enter the Great Barrier Reef, passing Lady Elliot Island, the Bunker Group then on towards Great Keppel Island and Roslyn Bay. From then on it is not only magnificent sailing but unequalled as a playground for practicing navigation and offshore seamanship. When God designed this coastline he clearly had RYA training top of mind and he placed literally thousands of islands and reefs for us to avoid and maybe to visit. We pass Shoal Water Bay including Cape Manifold – a place that teams with wildlife – whales, dolphins and if you are very lucky a croc sighting! We don’t swim much around there. After this it is the Percy Islands, St Bees and Scawfell Islands and then north past Mackay and into the Whitsundays. With its huge tidal range and swirling tide streams this is a feast for the eyes as well as the brain as all navigational techniques are put to use through this challenging area. We will be stopping at Hamilton Island so as we approach we iron our resort wear and practice our air kisses. You never know who you might spot whilst sipping a decaffeinated soya milk vanilla double shot latte at one of the many waterfront café’s the island is famous for. The next day we enjoy a short sail through the Whitsunday Islands before our triumphant arrival at Airlie Beach. Tradition demands that we have a crew dinner at Hog’s Breath that night before I take you on an educational tour of the bars of Airlie Beach to complete the team bonding exercise. Seriously though this trip will inspire you and give you learning opportunities unequalled on any coastline in the world. We still have a few places available for the trip up and the sail back to Brisbane. Each trip is of 7 days duration and at $1650 including all meals is great value for money. But you better get in quick as there is only a week until we leave and places are filling fast! The Brisbane-Airlie Beach trip departs Brisbane NEXT TUESDAY the 28th October, arriving in Airlie Beach Monday the 3rd September. The return trip departs Airlie on Friday 7th September and arrives back at Manly on Saturday 14th.
Unfortunately I will be away for the opening day of the sailing season so if anyone has just got a job as a milkman or is going to a fancy dress party as the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island, I have a rather fetching white peaked cap available for hire. That’s all for this edition until next time, fair winds. Cheers Mike Job.