Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Buff's Big Escape

Just a quick note as Buff's not up to posting at the moment to say he's ok. I've paid his hotel and flight and Mrs Staysail in Brisbane will pay me back out of BS's savings account she keeps and eye on.

No doubt we'll hear more in due course from Buff and the race when his flight lands in the Canary Islands from where he can observe the fleet as it heads out across the Atlantic.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Buff's Drug Running Sensation!

Its been a nervous 48 hours waiting for the Buff-meister to check in. We even had a call from BS's old mum Mrs Staysail back in her nursing home in Brisbane who was worried sick, saying he hadn't rung her in two whole days! Given the anomalous charges on the credit card there was a time when we feared for the worse.

And we were right to be concerned. Due to time constraints its probably best to just cut and paste Buff's email straight in and you can make of it what you will.

You've got to help me JP, you've got to I just don't know what to do they've got my passport they'll be after me soon, god, the cockroaches, you've no idea how big they get. It's not my fault I swear, I didn't know what they'd be up to.

See it was like this. I was in this bar chatting up these girls and they were dead keen I could tell and they wanted to move on to this club, never heard of it but sounded real swanky just the thing that would close the deal you know what I mean and don't you breath a word of this to my old mum.

Off we went and it was all glitz and gold, mirrors and black furniture, not my cup of tea, but the girls liked it and we were getting on just fine and then I spotted the group in the next table were the shore crew of that boat "Rolex Posse" which caused all that trouble at the start when they wanted to call their entry something else so dammed rude even the sailors wouldn't have it. There looked a mean bunch too, called themselves the G-unit.

But I couldn't help listening to what they were saying and caught something about them meeting its crew, 50 Cents and Young Buck, near Casablanca to do some business. So of course I go over and say hi but they didn't want to know. But I thought I'd get some sort of scoop so asked them right off what was wrong with the boat that meant they had to get a pit stop in Casablanca.

Maybe then they guessed they knew I was into sailing not just any old hanger on, but after hearing I knew about Casablanca they sort of warmed up and chatted a bit about the race till one of them - I could never work out who was who - asked if I wanted to come along. Of course I said yes thinking it would be just like Ibiza and I'd get the in-side track again.

They said they'd take me along if I'd pay their tab - of course I said ok thinking it would be just a few beers but they'd been on Crystal all evening so had a sort of heart attack when they gave me the bill - and it wasn't to be the first shock, if only I'd known then.

They then went off to this other club which they said was a lap dancing club and again said I'd have to pay for a round if I wanted in and they made it pretty clear I would be in big trouble if I didn't say yes but they also said if the deal goes through they'd pay it back and some though that was some stiff bills for just a lap dance if you know what I mean.

After a bit I was pretty hammered and just wanted to get out and crash at the hotel but they wouldn't let me go, the old Buff magic I guess, 'cos I was telling a few of the yarns about sea life.

They liked that and suggested I tag along for the ride and fool that I was said yes, must have been the whisky we had been on. So right early in the morning, must have been nearly 4 ish, we got into their speed boat, pretty minimal it was apart from these two huge motors, and headed off.

I thought they were idiots, they forgot to switch on the running lights, and was about to tell them when my stomach had one of its turns. You know I'm generally a good sailor so must have been the drink or the hour of the motion of the boat which was right fierce 'cos once we were out of the harbour they really put on the revs.

So there I was puking in one corner and when I looked up they were cleaning guns! Can you imagine it! Of course I asked what the hell they were playing at but they just called me a pussy and said when got the heroin aboard "Rolex Posse" the could sail it across to Miami and no one would ask why they were a day late.

I almost blurted it out there and then. Those idiots had no idea that all the yachts in the fleet are tracked by satellite. So most likely the police would be wondering what 50 cent was up to and if they were asking questions then yours truly would be right up shits creak. Whether it was a fire fight or a drug running prison sentence either way ol' Buff was in it up to his eye brows.

We powered on till we say the Open 60 anchored by a sheltered bay with its crew smoking fat cigars on the cabin. The G-unit had the cash and the gear to do the transaction so headed into shore to meet with their contact.

This I could see was my one and only chance, and I asked to go too. They weren't at all keen but with my hurling left right and centre they could see the shore might be a good idea.

First chance I had I was off and just in time because not 10 minutes later the police turned up with speed boats and a helicopter and there was this right old gun fight and half the G-unit got shot and the other half nicked and your truly lay as low as he'd ever laid in his life.

I reckon they were waiting till the transaction took place so they had evidence on all of them. Anyhow I didn't wait to find out though you've probably heard all about the charges on the news.

So walked for miles and miles till found this hotel not much but I wasn't going to sniff at it as it was on the beach and was trying to attract the western tourist so they like the idea of an Ozzie from down under. Well they liked it until I presented my credit card and bang did the smiles go just like that. I say my credit card and yes maybe really its yours JP but it was a mean trick to cancel it you have no idea what trouble thats caused.

The owner here thinks I'm trying to con him and maybe he'll call the police and then god you know what will happen then I just can't risk so he's got my passport and made me clean in the kitchen till the money comes which I've promised it will and its just hell in there. The heat, the noise, they all are yelling and I have no idea what anyone of them is saying and then at night there's this cupboard sized room with a mattress on the floor and the cockroaches scuttle across you so you can't sleep and I just had time to get to the internet cafe and beg 5 minutes.

So you must JP old thing must ring the hotel and pay by cc I just can't stand it anymore. And get me out of here anywhere before the cops come round.

This is Buff in a right old mess, signing off.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Buff's gone AWOL

What's up with guest writer Buff Staysail? Or more precisely what's he been doing with the emergency use only credit card?

Not only have we heard nothing from the wayward Ozzie who's meant to be reporting on the celebrity yacht race but there's the not so slight issue of the two large and unauthorised charges he signed off.

Firstly there was a bar bill of Euros 1,287 at the Club Royal, followed by Euros 800 for something called "Executive Entertainment".

I've just about had enough of ol' BS. Time to give him his marching orders and tell the cc company to reject all further transactions.

What is really annoying is there is clearly some story brewing on the inaugural Monaco to Miami Celebrity Yacht race. As you can see in the figures above the fleet is heading south towards the trades and away from the high sitting over the Azores (see below).

All the boats that is, but one, which has peeled off and is skirting the coast of Morocco. Is this another crew in distress or yacht that has suffered some damage? The official web site is unfortunately keeping mum on the topic - for what reason one can only guess.

Its a shame, as this is just the sort of story that Buff should have been investigating.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Into the Atlantic

Strange silence from Buff, so a simple position update today. Using the kml files to turn Google Earth into our race viewer we can see the remaining boats of the fleet are safely through the straits of Gibraltar and heading out into the Atlantic.

Ahead of them 3,800 nautical miles of open ocean. What adventures will befall our brave bunch of Celebrities before they reach Miami?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Dismasting and Rescue Drama!

Sensation from the Celebrity Monaco to Miami yacht race! Our man on the spot, Buff Staysail, is there with the latest on the dismasting and rescue of the crew of "Wild Boys". Time for some BS:

Howdy folks! Its Buff Staysail here, Buff by name and Buff by nature!

Well nature hasn't been kind to the crew of "Wild Boys". As the fleet approached the Strait of Gibraltar it was hit by a full blown storm. While most yachts sought shelter by the Spanish Coast, two plucky boats head out, gambling on surviving it's 50 knot blasts.

One was the "Wild Boys" of Robbie Williams and Jay Kay, the other crewed by the wild brothers Gallagher on "Definitely Will Be".

Last night we heard the terrible news that Wild Boys had been dismasted after the boom caught the running back-stay during a crash gybe and riping it loose, the mast quickly tumbling down after.

There was a frantic period when the lads hacked away the wreckage only to find that in the chaos some spar had smashed a hole into the port quarter through which the Med was flowing in a message that said simply "boys, get out now".

So it was time for a mayday and launch those flares - and maybe even their hearts sank like the boat under them as they heard there was only one chance of rescue, from their arch rivals from Oasis.

With impressive seamanship, combined with nonchalant arrogance the Manchester duo maneuvered their Open 60 close along side to allow Jay Kay to attempt to throw a line.

Everyone at race HQ held their breaths as we waited to hear the result - with the boat sinking under them there would be only be one chance and the minutes were ticking by!

Then over the sat phone we heard the laconic tones of Liam - "we got 'em. Ponce and Wimp both on board. What the fuck to we do now?"

I don't mind saying, I cheered then I cried. It was one of the moments you'll always remember where you were.

Buff out.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - 50 knot Wind Storms!

As the fleet minus Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Fatboy Slim are approaching the straights of Gibraltar, it looks like the Fat Face crew have the right idea, as the weather has turned viscous.

Storm force winds of 40 - 50 knots are battering the boats directly on the nose. As you can see from the chart above, the majority of the yachts are approaching Gibraltar along the coast of Spain, where there is some shelter.

It's not just the wind speeds, but the waves and battering these top of the line Open 60's will be taken as they bash to windward. I bet they wish they were in some solid steel like those Challenge Business 72 footers currently up for sale.

Our thoughts are with the two yachts that are heading with the bulldog spirit right into the heart of the wild weather. An update on how the boats have survived as we get it.

Celebrity Yacht Race - An Apology

There were stiff words after BS's last misadventures which seemed to have struck home. So we're giving Buff one more chance to redeem himself:

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

Got my head hung in shame today. Ibiza has not been the happy party place that Buff here had hoped for.

I'd like to apologise unconditionally to Sophie for my harsh words yesterday, and also to Sam and Trish, the two Ossie birds I was chatting to on the beach, for the accident with their bikini.

Seems like a case of a tinny or two or three too many. That's what happens when your motto is "To the bar and beyond".

(And incidentally that's also how Buzz Lightyear got his catch phrase - a memorable trip by your Buff to LA a couple of years ago).

[Ed - he's back, it's classic BS!]

Now I'm nursing a head the size of Ulura while heading off to that other famous rock. Gibraltar, to see the fleet pass through the straights.

As Buzz and me would say - "To the Atlantic and Beyond!"

This is a somber and sober Buff, signing off.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Exclusive Interview!

Yes, it's time for another report from our guest writer, Buff Staysail, well known for his unique style of writing. Take it away, BS!

Howdy folks! Yes its Buff Staysail here, Buff by name and Buff by nature.

Got a world exclusive for all you celebrity sailing fans out there. Ol' Buff got the inside after being tipped off from this bloke who'd had even more cold ones than yours truly. And on hearing the news I knew JP wouldn't mind me tapping his credit card for a flight to Ibiza.

Why Ibiza you say? Well check out the latest from JP's web tracker (see below). As you can see most boats are tacking their way up to Gibraltar, but one has diverted to the famous party island.

And boy do they know how to party! I hooked up with these Ozzie two girls who were well impressed when they heard about my skippering a boat on the Sydney Hobart. We were there on the beach when the boat sponsored by Fat Face clothing pulled in for what the youngsters there were calling a beach rave!

Apparently the skipper, one Normal Cook, was known for his "DJ" skills, not that I'd heard of him. But who doesn't know his crew mate, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, a big favourite of Buff's. She can take me home any day!

There's been some controversy about the gig as race organisers are saying that connecting a 40A 120V cable to power the sound system counts as external assistance - to say nothing of the many beers, burgers, spiffs, and who knows what else handed over by an adoring crowd.

Anyhow, being the only sailing journo on the beach it was up to me to get that interview, so after a couple more cold ones I grabbed transport (a lilo) and paddled out.

[Ed: for technical reasons the interview is only available as a transcript]

BS: Hello, it's Buff Staysail here, sailing journalist

NC: Soph, its some journo


BS: So you didn't mind the sponsorship of Fat Face then?

SEB: Eh?

BS: What with your fat face and all?

SEB: What?

BS: Didn't they call you an alien rhomboid?

NC: Easy mate, they sponsored us for me, you know, Fatboy

BS: Eh? You're not fat?

SEB: Who is this joker?

NC: Its a bit rich, I'm mean look at him?

SEB: Yes, he's only just afloat

NC: So, all I'd have to do is...

BS: Hey! Don't do tha......

[Ed: at this point the recording ends. Sounds like its just as well too - can't apologise enough to both Sophie and Norman]

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Viewer Update

As previously noted, the official site of the inaugural Celebrity Monaco to Miami Yacht race is even worse than the 5 Oceans. However thanks to Tillerman unearthing an old Oric in his basement and Ant an old Bulgarian - English dictionary we have made progress with our own race viewer.

After a bit of hacking we have converted the raw data into Google Earth kml files, and so for all of you out there frustrated at not knowing where the fleet is, we can exclusively reveal the following graphic.

You can see the fleet heading out into the Med making good progress with the right side of the track having a clear advantage. The reason for this can be seen when superimposing the positions with the grib file previously posted.

It might have been further to travel for those that headed more west, but the extra winds from the mistral has certainly made it worth while!

As to our guest writer, Buff Staysail, little has been heard of him over the last 24 hours except he's been using my emergencies only credit card again - so he better have a good story when he surfaces.

But it makes me feel a little better about repeating the tale of ol' Buff and his extravagant claims from the Sydney Hobart race. I got chatting to an old crew mate of his who told me the true story during the RORC crew party.

As we watched some very nice yachtie tottie dancing the night away in an executive box in the Chelsea grounds he revealed that Buff spent most of the race in his bunk only emerging occasionally to eat the ship's supply of chocolate.

That's our Buff!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - they're off!

In these cold winter days when we can only dream of sailing it's good to hear of those out on the water. Not just blogger's favourite Laser sailor, Tillerman, but the host of stars heading out across the Med towards distant Miami.

Next up for Captain JP is Friday's RORC crew party at the Chelsea Football Club - story in due course.

Now its time for another bulletin from our Buff - slightly late to check in and sounding a bit sheepish - what can he have been up to?

Howdy sailing fans! Buff Staysail here, Buff by name and Buff by nature!

Well that was a wet and wild rib out to the start, but it was worth it to see all the host of Open 60's heading out to the deep blue of the med crewed by the famous and infamous.

Being an Aussie to the core - born and bred within Koala spitting distance of the XXXX brewery in Brisbane - it was of course the Kylie boat I stuck to like glue. The pint-pot sized superstar has teamed up with none other than Madonna to the sensation of all those following this race.

Of course such a combination led to sparks - not least as to what to call the boat. But peace was restored when Ellen MacArthur suggested a compromise based on her schizophrenic B&Q/Castorama and have different names on each side of the boat.

And so the port side has "Queen of pop" in purple '70s sci-fi while the starboard has "Pop Princess" in pink and glitter.

The battle between these two to be skipper is still underway. Madonna is currently trying to prove her point by tying Kylie into the Bosun's chair and hawling her up to the mast head and refusing to let her down until she submits.

Strangely enough the wee one seems to be having the time of her life and is pretending to be a fairy at the top of a Christmas tree, singing "I should be so luck".

If only I could show some of the photos taken with your nice digital SLR, JP, but at that point my stomach rebelled and I had to hurl over the side, temporarily letting it go.

But don't worry - I put together the attached using Paint which gives you an idea and spent the emergency money you gave me on another.

Bottoms up!

Simpson's Emergency - Newsflash

There's been an update on what the serious technical failure reported on Jessica & Ashlee Simpson on "You what?" - apparently Jessica split a nail.

Thats a downer - I had bought her in the journo's sweep stake off that Elaine Bunting at Yachting World.

Looks like Buff is short another hundred Euros !