Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - the web site

It looks like the Celebrity Yacht Race is going to beat even the 5 Oceans site for unusability.

Firstly it seems to be only compatible with web browsers running the Bulgarian version of the Oric computer. Then (as far as its possible to tell) the multi-media downloads of video, emails, podcasts etc cost a staggering Euro 995 for the period of the race.

I can see its just as well we've sent out ol' Buff to find out the real story. I'll try to convert the raw position data for kml so we can follow the race on Google Earth - watch this space.

In the meantime these are the wind forecasts from this excellent site. You can see the boats are going to have a slow start, drifting across the line at Monaco rather than racing over the horizon towards Miami.

The good news is there should be some great reaching winds coming from the North-West shortly - see the figure below

So we can expect to see the fleet head out to the south of the Balearic islands to avoid the wind hole to the north.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - The Start

Our guest writer, Buff Staysail, has been living it up in the south of France covering the start of the first celebrity yacht race from Monaco to Miami. Without further ado, lets get an update from the Buff-meister himself.

Houdy folks, its Buff Staysail here, Buff by name and Buff by nature.

Well that sure was some crew party the race committee threw last night. There were pints of cocktails, gallons of champagne, and swimming pools of beer and from the state of my head I drank them all!

And the girls - wow! Even a winging pom like you JP might have got lucky with one of them - I was right in there with that Bond girl Eva Green ....

[Ed: sure looks like this is classic BS!]

...if we hadn't been rudely interrupted. You probably heard all about it - the Gallagher brothers fight - and yours truly was right in the heart of it. Those Manchester rockers, crew of the "Definitely Will Be" were challenged to a fight by Robbie Williams & Jay Kay.

So far so predictable. But then the brothers fell out as to who would deck "the wimp" and who "the ponce", ending up using those names (and many others) on each other. Noel tried to get Liam in a head lock, before Liam rammed Noel in the stomach, winding him but not so he was unable to kick Liam in the balls. Ha ha ha!

Much fun and merriment was had by all except those who had to pay for the two mirrors, twenty seven glasses, fourteen plates, one table, three chairs, four pairs of glasses, two mobile phones (both pink Razrs), and a dozen bottles of Crystal.

The only downside to old Buff here was that in the confusion and side bets on the which Gallagher brother would end up on top (that's 50 euros I'll never see), Eva Green slipped off to "get some fresh air" with Jay Kay.

Meanwhile Robbie went back to his boat for a quiet cocoa and early night - if only we had been as sensible.

But back to the race. As I look out at the scene in the morning sun, the boats are streaming out of the marina, flags flying, masses of paps fighting for the best shot, free drinks, flares left and right, girls in bikinis, jugglers, bands, more free drink, pounding sound systems, all under bright blue sky on this most exiting of days.

The farewell gig is in full stream echoing around the docks and if Chris Martin and Sting want to get their boat "Eco Warrier 2" to the start line they've got to put down those mics and leg it like they've never legged it before.

Oh, and what's this! Yes, its the Jessica & Ashlee Simpson boat, "You what?"! It's turning back to port - what's going on there! Must be something seriously wrong.

Go to go - theres a rib out there with Buff's name on it - more later....

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Preview

It's with great excitement we can welcome a guest writer to Captain JP's Log. We are lucky enough to have the legendary Buff Staysail himself to join the team to cover the recently announced Rolex Celebrity double-handed yacht race.

Footballer Zinedine Zidane's announcement that he is entering the competitive and glamorous world of offshore yacht racing has really stirred up the pot, and a veritable flood of A-list celebrities rushed to follow suit.

Indeed there has been so much interest that Rolex have sponsored an inaugural transatlantic race and already dozens of boats have registered. Foregoing the traditional marinas of Portsmouth, La Rochelle, or Saint-Malo and destinations such as Rio or Pointe-à-Pitre, the more celeb friendly route has been selected, namely from Monaco to Miami.

Now the boats and crews are assembling at in the south of France, where we can hear first hand from our new guest writer, Buff himself. Well known to you all for his fearless predictions ("No Swiss boat will ever win the America's Cup", "Movistar will be unstoppable in the Volvo", and "Ellen who?") he is the touchstone of his particular writing style. No doubt you have heard someone say an article was "Pure BS" - and you know it must have been written by our Buff.

But enough, lets hand over to the master himself. Buff, it's all yours......

Howdy folks, its Buff here, Buff by name and Buff by nature, and boy is the temperature rising here in the glamorous golden city state of Monaco. The quayside is literally heaving - not just with the million dollar racing yachts but the stars of pop and rock as they make their final preparations for tomorrows start.

There have been sensations already with not one, not two, but yes folks, three boats out of the running before the start gun has even been raised.

The first sign of trouble was when Bono stormed out of the race committee after being disqualified. Apparently he failed the rule that each boat should have two crew members as his claim that him and his ego made it two was rejected. Bono has just flown out to save either the rain forest or the melting ice caps, we can't tell as yet, leaving his boat, "Me makes 2" deserted.

A similar problem fell on the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley. When measured using the Celebrity RORC rating they were so skinny they only counted as 1.36 crew members despite having half a salad between them over the previous 48 hours. On hearing the news they fainted and were taken away to an intensive session of regression therapy.

However I bet J-Lo (pictured above) wishes there had been more skinnies on her boat "Who are you looking at?" which unfortunately sank when it was overloaded by her 50 strong entourage, including make-up equipment, several TV crews, and a crate of glacier water flown in from Antarctica.

My predictions for the race - well its wide open, but I'm keeping an eye on that Jessica Simpson - she's the one to beat.

For now that's all. I'm off to the pre-race party which is said by all of those in the know to be a cracker in the making.

For now its Buff Staysail, over and out.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Golden Balls and Boats

“Which one d’you like sweetie?” asked David Beckham.

Victoria Beckham looked at both boats carefully. “Well that one’s a Princess and got just a lovely walk-in wardrobe” she said.

“We’ll take it” David said to the sales rep, who beamed back.

“Wait a minute, let me finish. The other one is a Sun Seeker – now that sounds nice – and it’s got its own jacuzzi”

David smothered a groan and looked around at the London Boat Show. “There’s a hundred boats here, there’s got to be one for you here”.

“But you don’t understand, David, it’s got to be just right. When top international stars like us go to LA we’ve got to accessorise to show our class. I heard Paris Hilton and Britney Spears are getting a matching pair of speed-boats”

“Wish they’d get a pair of knickers”

Victoria gave David a slap. “Don’t say that – it’s those horrid paps”

“Yes, your paps are much nicer”.

Victoria smiled. “You know what I mean – look at how they were chasing that nice Kate Middleton, even after they promised they wouldn’t”.

“What-ever, you going to buy or what”

“I don’t know, does it come in pink?” she asked the sales rep, who nodded, smile fixed as if by superglue.

“Not pink, not pink again, call it Posh’s Palace, Brooklyn II, anything, just not pink”.

“It’s my boat, you get to choose the other toys”

“Yup, iPhone and all the best from the Macworld”

Victoria sniffed. “You spend too long on that Apple – who is this Michelle Manhart I found you searching for”

“You wouldn’t be interested” Beckham quickly said, “she’s a US military sort in Iraq, its international politics, very boring, not your cup of tea at all”.

“Oh”. Victoria had lost interest.

“Come on, I’ve got a meeting with the Florida Gators management team. Someone called Yvonne Decarlo or something like that.”

“Maybe not a boat” said Victoria, “but a car”.

“Now you’re talking” said David, perking up, “let’s go to the Detroit Auto Show”.


It's a slow period for sailing when the nights are long and the days cold. So for the foreseeable future this will be a once a week blog.

This week I'm trying an experiment suggested by Ken Levine on his blog - post an entry with all the top search phrases and see how it impacts the hit-rate. In this case it was to include all the terms in Google's Zeitgeist in a boating related piece of fiction.

Hope you enjoy the results.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Boat Show Round-up

So I went - but it was only just worth it. It doesn't help that the exhibition centre Excel is the edge of beyond (ok East London) and it didn't help that there was a signal failure on the Docklands Light Railway which meant a 20 min hike through the wilds of Canning Town (which is clearly a place you should leave your valuables at home before visiting).

It should be a plus that the place is so huge it feels empty, but it lessons the character and atmosphere. Maybe in an attempt to generate some excitement that many of stands went interactive, with demos of how to lay an anchor, competitions to haul up a dinghy's mainsail or grind a volvo, and a fog tunnel.

I was most interested by the America's Cup boat on display, BMW Oracle. Particularly impressive was the size of the track - understandable given the loads involved.

There wasn't enough time to look round the boats or do any shopping as was the last two hours on Thursday. But its my favourite time to go as the stands hand out free drinks and hire bands.

So many thanks to the Laser stand for the beer and music. But alas they were out budgeted by Sun Seeker(who else) who had hired a The Committments style band (below) for their stand.

Now that was fun!

But what does it say about a boat show when the best bit was the beer and the band?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What's the point of Boat Shows?

Its that time of year again. The Christmas decorations have been put away for another year and England is grey and wet, so it must be time for the London Boat Show.

But I can't get enthusiastic and wonder why bother going. It's not like the year I was thinking of buying a dinghy so had fun checking out Lasers and Toppers. It's not like the year I met up with a couple of friends in the champagne bar, nor the year another friend was exhibiting.

If I go at all it will be the late Thursday night where there seems to be an open bar at most stands. But at the moment its only 50:50.

But yes, this sailor does think a spinnaker is much like a bikini top.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

River Life

Happy New Year!

One of my favourite quotes comes from The Wind in the Willows. As Ratty introduces Mole to the river he says "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolute nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats". It is of course so true.

Almost all the action of the book takes place beside the River Thames, which I can now see gliding gently past my new flat.

The river is fascinating, ever changing. Tides come and go, birds flock and feed, clouds rush by, while flurries on the water show gusts of wind. This afternoon we saw a melancholy Christmas Tree - floating upstream as the tide was in full flood. If I wait a few hours I'll see it come back down again.

I love watching it so no doubt more river stories in the future.

Anyhow, hope you all had great holiday breaks!