I am definitiely over-due for an update! Been plenty on these past few months, both in sailing and family events.
Family-wise, it has been a great summer on the Isle of Wight. Nice, mild weather with some long periods of sunny days and nice breezes. Since arriving to Cowes in April, we have had little to complain about.
The original plan for Kate to home-school the older two kids only lasted for a couple of weeks. Just too hard, particularly with the young fella, Charlie in the background demanding his piece of the action. So they were enrolled to school and saw out the final term of the English school year. Today is a big day, as it is the first day back from school holidays after a lonnnggg seven weeks for Kate. It is the first ever day of school for Charlie. Unfotunatey, I am not at home to be a part of it, but did have a skype with them earlier and saw him in his uniform. Pretty weird to see our little baby in uniform! Where does it go?
So, the kids are great. Enjoying the Cowes waterfront and all it’s goings-on. Also spending time with their little cousins etc.. It’s all good stuff. Kate is also having a great time. Lots of family around, as well as old childhood friends. Can’t go wrong, really. However, the big test of an English winter ominously approaches….. In other family news, my mum arrives this weekend from Melbourne. By far the biggest trip of her life. Will be great to see her.
Sailing / work-wise it has been flat-out. The main activities have been related to my role as coach with Team Artemis in the RC44, TP52 and Louis Vuitton circuits. I have also done three trips as coach with the Kiwi Star team of Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk and two ‘holidays” to do World Championships as a sailor myself. Since arriving to Europe in April, I have done fourteen events. There are seven more events planned between the end of September and Christmas, so that will make twenty-six events for the year. This would be twice as many events in any year that I have done previously. But in Europe, there is plenty happening all over the place, so it’s not too surprising. I have not been “home” in Cowes a whole lot, but sneak a few days here and there. I love it when I am there.
It is a fairly unique year sailing-wise, in that the America’s Cup has been far from having a solid direction. Teams such as Artemis, Team New Zealand and Britain’s Team Origin have sought to keep the guys together and busy with a range of other events. It has made for busy schedules.
So, in summary, the move to the northern hemisphere has been very positive for the Palfrey family. We’ll see how we survive the autumn and winter (did I mention winter was coming already?).
Just recently, I competed in the Etchells Worlds in Howth, Ireland with John Bertrand and Tom Slingsby. we ended up winning with a race to spare, which was very satisfying. Hanging out with and sailing with both JB and Tom is a privilege. Sailing with Tommy is to witness first-hand one of sailing’s emerging greats at work. I drafted a piece for the Etchells newsletter which details the campaign. It was a wonderful week. The local hospitality was awesome. The fleet was not huge. Hopefully the numbers in the class will improve with the economies of the US and Europe.
Right now I am sitting in the Yacht Club at Torbole, Lake Garda, Italy, where I am competing in the International 5.5mtr Class World Championship. I am sailing with Flavio Marazzi and Christof Wilke of Switzerland. Flavio is a friend from the Star Class. He has competed in three Olympics and was placed 4th in Athens 04, as well as winning the Europeans in 2007 and being second in this year’s Star worlds. He usually sails with Enrico De Maria, but Enrico could not make this week, so here I am. Chrostof is a boat-builder of great distinction. He is the best builder of carbon Finn class masts in the world. He builds the best 5.5’s and also build’s very nice Star boats. He recently built a new Finn for Ben Ainslie as well. The quality is the best I have ever seen. On top of all this, he is a nice bloke.
The 5.5’s are beautiful boats. Very developed when compared to the Etchells. Carbon masts, 3DL sails, modern foil shapes and a trim tab on the keel. Lots to fiddle with and quite comfortable with a hiking harness (the back and hands are still recovering from the Etchells!). After a very promising first day, when we had 15-18kts of wind (for which this lake is famous for), yesterday and today see the Alps to the north shrouded in cloud and rain. Mo racing yesterday and today is looking a little as sad as well. Good cafe weather. We got off to a nice start, winning the first two races. Long way to go, but I am enjoying it regardless of the result.
Prior to this previous fortnight, the last sailing I had done was the Etchells Aussie Nationals back in January. I enjoy the coaching, but it is great to sail again. Good for the mind and nice to stay reasonably current.
From here, things are a little uncertain. the world finds out in five days the decision on whether the next America’s cup is to be sailed in catamarans or the more traditional monohull. Also, we find out in which year the Cup is to be staged. The venue will not be announced for another few months. Whilst these announcements will barely cause a ripple in the real world, they are fundamental to my work, so we will be following this with great interest. Either way, there will be a lot to learn and lots of effort expended over the coming couple of years within Team Artemis.
Our little family has commiited to the UK as a base until the end of next northern summer. From there, we will re-assess as to where the work is for me and what is best for the kids. It is hard to imagine that we won’t be back at Pittwater at some point in the medium-term future. We’ll see.