There's never one around when you need one. No, I'm not
talking about taxis or Red London Buses. I'm talking about
One particular doctor in fact...He works hard but the last time we windsurfers were in Perth,
Western Australia in 1997 for the ISAF World Windsurfing
Championships, he certainly had other things on his mind
from the day the event started
Not before, you understand, he was certainly there right up to the morning of the first day of racing. Blowing a healthy 20-25 knots every day and in the process reducing some experienced sailors to tears on the choppy waters off Freo. But from that morning onwards, he absconded leaving us with an average of 10 knots to race in.
So will he co-operate this time?
In less than three weeks time the RS:X One Design Racing Fleets will join the largest high performance sailing event ever staged in one of the remotest cities on the planet. It is Perth 2011 and the ISAF World Sailing Championships for ten Olympic fleets. The event is just eight months ahead of the London 2012 Olympic sailing competition and will count for 75% of the qualifying places for nations wishing to compete there.
In Fremantle, Western Australia around 1,200 sailors from approximately 80 nations will compete in 800 plus boats, sailing across six courses.
Now the task is ‘to land the fish’ says John Longley, the Event Director for Perth 2011. ‘Long John’ (he is 6’ 4') competed in five America’s Cup campaigns and was the Project Manager and a member of the crew of Australia II when she won the Cup in 1983, so he knows how to make things happen.
‘You know when you hook a fish and you are playing with it out there and the fish swims around and swims around, you deal with it. As you get it closer to the beach, the fish suddenly goes ‘heck this isn’t good’ and really starts ripping around the place. Well an event is like that too. You get closer and closer and suddenly more issues crop up. But we have been knocking them on the head as fast that they appear and we are on track. We were sweating with the Qantas airline strike, because they are our major international carrier and were delighted when 42 days of arbitration and a peace was announced as the event will be done and dusted by then'
‘It is not easy bringing a very major event into a public domain. We are not operating out of a Yacht Club and we are not operating out of the Weymouth National Sailing centre. We are operating out of a range of public spaces, car parks and in temporary structures. Certainly that has advantages for the general public with terrific access to the event and that’s one of the things we are obviously trying to achieve.'
‘We want people who have never had anything to do with sailing before to come down and look at these amazing athletes, watch them rigging their boats, watch them going to sea, watch them sailing, having some idea of what the sport is about by watching animation on the big screen while sucking in the vibe and thinking ‘wow … this is a great thing.’
‘We are still obviously very, very busy. I currently feel like someone who has trained very hard to for a regatta and I am ready to go and race and if I win that’s great but if I lose, well I know I would have given it my absolute best. I think all the team is feeling the same. We are certainly getting terrific feedback from the athletes who are already here, around 50 countries so far. They are loving it.'
‘Down at the yacht clubs we can talk to the sailors and they are just so pleased to be here and are having a really good time. Our offices overlook the centre course and we look out every day and there are just more and more sailors out there and training.
‘The standard is so high. The other day there were three Danish 49ers coming into a leeward mark set 40 metres off the beach. There were a lot of people sitting watching and I said ‘there is no way all those blokes are going to get in there’ but they did and it was just wonderful to watch. I am personally very excited. I’m really genuinely full of adrenaline, looking forward to it. We’ve been three years pulling this together. I just hope that it all goes well and that we get good winds.
‘ Obviously there are going to be issues and obviously there are going to be problems but everything we can do to put all into place, we have. Bring it on! And so the dream begins in Perth. 16 more sleeps’ concluded Longley, smiling broadly.
But there are some things you just cannot manage and the 'Doctor' is one of them. Normally in December in Perth, They get into a pretty favourable sea breeze pattern and that's what they are banking on for the event. But and it's a big 'But', normal and weather are a contradiction in terms these days when they appear in the same senetence.
Let's hope that the passion and hard work that Long John and his team have put in have built up enough good karma for even the wind gods to obediently do what is expected of them. Bring on the breeze... Let the Doctor do his best...