Tuesday, 24 June 2003
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Apres sailing St Thomas

Apres sailing St Thomas

Sailing Article 24.06.03 The Life Selected as starting helmsman for the first British America's Cup campaign for 15 years, Andy Green had well and truly arrived on the center stage of sailing. Yet in just the opening round, he was replaced by Andy Beadsworth, a difficult pill to swallow, yet not uncommon in the often cruel arena that is the AC. Green has been focusing a bit on match racing since, and winning the Laureus 2003 Regatta in Monaco (and the Mercedes CLK 200 AMG he won for first place!) has helped put him back on track. For us there as always been an almost voyeuristic interest in the world and life of being a professional sailor, and Andy, being that, was kind enough to share a peek into his world. - Enjoy. After a well known rules advisor friend of mine was accused of writing for Sailing Anarchy, I thought it best not to let him have all the limelight and when Scot asked me to give an insight into a professional sailor's life, I agreed. This is only a personal account of how my area of the sport works, the beauty of its diversity is clear, be it Boat Captain in the Caribbean, Solo, Round the World, Olympian or America's Cup sailor. The Daily Grind I am on the train from London to Southampton having got back late last night from an Italian Match Racing Event. Everybody is drinking coffee and on their way to work, strangely this is the end of my working week, Monday and Tuesday, my weekend is just starting. I used to have one of those, a real job, but events took an unexpected turn when I was the tea boy at a London Advertising Agency. Omega in their wisdom decided that I was to be the recipient of $10,000 and a nice new watch for a 300-place rise in the rankings. As much as I loved getting up at 7am every morning and joining the chaos of London's Underground, the prospect of giving sailing a go seemed too good to miss. It was not a decision to take lightly, there was little money, not many crew who would do it for free, I wasn't much good and I was leaving a great job which paid me and had prospects. Pro- Sailing? My parents weren't too sure and my grandparents were, lets say 'disappointed'. It was the hardest decision I have ever made. I did at least figure out that the only real way to do full time sailing was to get into match racing. Names like Coutts, Dixon, Baird and Law all seemed to be making a pretty good living off the reputations they had gained doing battle in the Brut Series and then the America's Cup, it showed a clear career path if you were good enough to get there and persistent enough to stick at it. When I first started, the important thing was to get invitations to match racing events. With no ranking, this involves phoning, emailing and hassling organisers. It also means going to rather more obscure places than Bermuda, Long Beach and Auckland. Jim Turner and I managed to persuade Tucker Thompson and Carter Perrin to sail with us, a huge coup at the time - they were both much better than us and taught us loads about match racing and the wider sailing scene. We flew Aeroflot to Moscow (rather scary) where we sailed on the old Olympic rowing lake and partied at the Hungry Duck, an eye-opener for any 21-year old. Subsequently I have seen it regularly ranked in the Top 10 Nightclubs of the world, the event is no more but the club thrives on! We went to events in Finland, Canada, Sweden, Croatia, Germany and France. In Finland the competitors doubled the size of the town! By the end of 1998, Tucker, Carter and myself were all with Cup teams, they saw some young boys doing well, and we were keen and cheap! We had been footing our expenses and splitting the prize money so a guaranteed salary was if not deserved then welcome! The match racing "season" in Europe runs from April to September starting with the Congressional Cup in Long Beach and ending at the Gold Cup in Bermuda which are both enduring and high profile events. Swedish Match has pumped a good deal of money and organisation into the circuit, choosing the 8 best events and helping them grow the profile of match racing on TV and with the public. It is the only sailing that can really be put on the TV or watched live and be vaguely interesting. (Team Racing aside) I love travelling and the biggest single bonus of sailing for me is seeing stunning views and meeting new and diverse groups of people all around the world. There is always a good reason to be there (sailing) and everyone has a common passion. Customs officers in Moscow rarely show the same love however, especially when trying to depart with a considerable amount of US Dollars stashed in our underpants. Ironically it had been given to us by the Tourism Minister at the Saratov Open on the Volga River. He was Surely aware of the $300 rule at all Russian airports! Some smooth talking a few of the greenbacks lighter we were on our way! The Ups and Downs For me the hardest thing in competitive sport is dealing with disappointment. Everyone knows it at whatever level you sail at, but when your living depends on it, making mistakes is a lot like making them at work. If your work means a lot to you it is pretty galling and takes time to get over. Coming back, stepping up and winning again is the hardest thing to do. We were sponsored for 4 years by Colorcraft, a Hong Kong based printing company that helped fund my match racing. It was obviously a great relief to have some backing, the financial pressures were less and the share of the prize money was more. It's an upward cycle, within a year we had finished 5th at the worlds and were ranked 8th in the world. The most important thing for them as a sponsor was having a team to follow, experience the highs and lows and have their clients looked after at the events. In Bermuda they had upwards of 20 publishers, for me and the crew to be there and help explain the action brought the event alive for them. When asked what we do when we aren't sailing, finding a sponsor expands very quickly into any free time you have. In my final year at College we lost the University team racing finals. It was my biggest disappointment thus far. The same team then went on to win the Wilson Trophy and the UK Nationals. So often the defeat only steels you for bigger challenges later. I was replaced after 6 races at the start of the LV Cup series. We had trained for over 18 months in the two Japanese boats and in our new boat. They decided I was the best man for the job so it was a tough day when I was asked to step down. Since my parents woke me up to watch Australia 2 beat Stars and Stripes in 1988, participating in the America's Cup has always been my boyhood dream. This was definitely a low point! It takes a bit of time to get over it and you have to be sure what you want to win when you go back. This summer I have decided to stay nearer home, forgo a bit of match racing and sail the Admiral's Cup. I have joined the Synergia 40 as the small boat in the Sailability Team. Both boats have 50% disabled and non-disabled sailors. Our boat is designed for sub 12knots, if we can put a bit more weight in it and get the crew work sorted we should be able to trade a few tack with some of the teams. Keeping a match racing team together and motivated, as with an Admiral's Cup boat, takes a considerable amount of time, this obviously increases with the size of the team and how well you want to do. It is no different I am sure in any job, as you grow up you get more responsibility. Part of the reason for a Sailabilty team is to encourage more disabled sailors to the top level, the RYA have identified a shortage of top disabled sailors for 2008 and 2012. I will write a bit for Sailing Anarchy about our Admiral's Cup experiences. I hope you've enjoyed this article, and if you wish to get in touch with me, please visit our site. Thanks, Andy Green

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