I spent two days in Portugal hosting the ISAF Rolex World Sailor awards. As part of the gig, I interviewed each of the nominees in front of 550 delegates from over 60 countries. It was a nice night.
The United States’ Ed Baird served as helmsman of the America’s Cup winner, Alinghi. My first question for Ed was, “How was it filling the big shoes left by Russell Coutts?” Baird stepped right up and answered, “I now know why Russell did so well. He had a strong team around him. This victory is really a tribute to every part of the Alinghi team.” I think Ed must have been surprised later in the evening when King Harold of Norway announced that he was the winner. Ed was quite emotional giving his speech. It was clear the honor meant a lot to him. This is the second year in a row I have hosted the function, and the second year in a row an American has won. (Last year Paige Railey was the top female sailor.
Dinner with a Gold Medalist
I sat with Olympic gold medalist Sofia Bekatorou and her husband Andreas Kosmatopoulos at the ISAF dinner. Andreas is working on a book about what sailors think about while they are racing. Sounds like an intriguing topic. He spent time racing 470s himself and told me that he thought Paul Foerster (gold medalist in the Men’s 470 in Athens) was a genius out on the racecourse. Interesting comment.
On Friday night I will be in Wisconsin speaking for Buddy Melges, who is being inducted into the Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame. It will be an easy speech for me to make because Buddy is one of the champion sailors in American history.
While we are on the subject of awards, ISAF has started its own Sailing Hall of Fame. Among the inductees another American, Olin Stephens, was honored. Olin was in attendance, and emcee Peter Montgomery asked him which of his designs he liked the best. Olin replied that of the 2,000 boats he’s designed, he has no individual favorite but likes the boats that were comfortable, safe, and then fast the best. Olin turns 100 in April 2008.
J/105 North Americans
I was a guest speaker last Saturday night at the J/105 North Americans, which hosted a record 69 boats. There were nearly 400 people at the Saturday night event, and I talked about the America’s Cup and the Olympics. What intrigued me about the regatta was that five of the boats were using coaches out on the water. Somehow I thought the J/105 was the ultimate Corinthian class, but coaches?