But in the premier class Velsheda was the clear winner this year adding to her impressive record but it would have been great to have seen her race against Hanuman which was withdrawn by her owner before racing started.
I could see nothing wrong with Hanuman and heard some comments from a crew member who was bitterly disappointed as he knew the boat was OK.
Valshedas owner, the Dutch business man Ronald de Waal, from European retail fashion chain WE (formerly HIJ/HEY/ZIJ clarified the position.
It is still a mystery to me why Dr Clark spent more then two years building Hanuman, having Gerard Dijkstra and his office deeply involved to create the fastest J, using the know how they assembled refitting all the other existing Js, entering the regatta in Antigua, practise and then not race.
Dr Clark did not cut any corners building the boat with carbon rigging, a lightweight interior as well as building a full wardrobe of racing sails. Dr Clark surely was aware of the way the boats were being raced with a mix of professionals and non-professionals. This is being done so that we can sail these big complex boats well, and also for safety reason.
With the Velsheda programme we have been sailing with the same crew for 8 years, some have been with us for 10 years. As a sponsor for Team NZ we had some of the guys of the team sailing with us as a return favour, which has been the situation for many years now.
Dr. Clark himself also engaged some heavyweight sailors and professionals such as Tom Whidden, Robby Haines etc and even tried to get Russell Coutts to join him for the regatta in Antigua. Dr Clark went out practising the same day as us and apparently he was at the helm for about half an hour. After his arrival back at the dock he decided to send the letter to John Williams of Ranger and myself withdrawing from the race. I was stunned. (Read previous news story.)
Then, Dr Clark and I had a personal conversation in which I explained to him that there had been no change as to the crew formation for this race on Velsheda. On the contrary I had ten amateurs of which most were non sailors and four kids on board. He knew I would be at the helm.
However, Dr Clark decided not to race as he did not want to race against these "professionals". It was very unfortunate he chose not to do so as there were four days of fantastic racing between Ranger and us and we were fortunate (or good enough) to beat the bigger Ranger four days on handicap and two days over the line.
Spend all that money and quit without trying. What a shame, I feel really sorry for the crew.
I wonder if the fun per dollar could have been any greater than tht OLD BOB'S crew enjoyed. The masts looked like they were steel poles and the sails had some serious miles behind them.