Friday, November 12, 2010

Sailing a different ship

Known as the 'ships of the desert', camels were, for the longest time, the only way to get around in these parts. While those days are long gone, the opening press conference at the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Dubai paid tribute to that heritage - the six skippers arrived at the stage on camels.

While ETNZ skipper Dean Barker's camel didn't want to let him down, BMW ORACLE Racing's Jimmy Spithill looked like a natural atop his beast. Perhaps after piloting the BOR 90 trimaran in February's America's Cup Match, a camel seemed straightforward by comparison.

The team sailed again for the first 'official practice day' of the event on Friday and will have another session on Saturday ahead of racing on Sunday.

Here's what Jimmy had to say at the opening press conference:

"It's great to be here and racing at the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Dubai. A lot of us have been racing here before and I think we've got great boats, some great conditions and some very tough competition, so we're really looking forward to it."

Asked about the transition from sailing multihulls to monohulls and switching back and forth, he said:

"Being able to adapt quickly is a skill a lot of the guys here have. We've had a few days of training against the Artemis guys and now we're really looking forward to getting into racing."

Jimmy wasn't the only team member to get up close and personal with the local transportation. Cathy Ryan, who keeps the sailing team on the straight and narrow, checked out Jimmy's ride for safety features ahead of time.

(Our thanks to Franck Socha for all images except the snap of Cathy which comes courtesy of the blog. Team photographer Gilles Martin-Raget is en route and will be supplying us for the rest of the event)