Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sailor's Working: The coolest exhibit in Alicante!

The crowds are thinner today, the sky has the most ominous look, with impressive clouds and all shades of gray, hinting to a storm but the rain has stayed away thus far and the guys are working about the boats while most folks on a Saturday are out playing. Unless you are in Alicante, Spain where the place to be is VOR Race Village, watching men at work or taking part in the countless other activities provided.

Last year, a little earlier in the month I was working with Clay Burkhalter in La Rochelle, France for the Mini Transat and the set up there, though not as elaborate, did allow people to walk the very docks we called home. These larger venues have tighter security and the people are kept at a "dock's length" from the guys hard at work. They are watching and snapping away photos, like those visiting a zoo or aquarium...can only imagine what each is thinking.

But when they get home, how do they explain it? I can almost imagine the conversation," so there were these people and well, not really sure what they were doing, but they were doing something to the was very cool, you had to have been there..."

It would almost be nice if they took after the zoos and aquariums and placed placards explaining to the earnest onlookers what the guys are doing. Granted it is not as exciting as a rare species mating habits or show of courting behavior, and maybe what they are doing seems straight forward but today met a couple from New Jersey who were besides themselves to hear us speaking English (had been chatting with a Puma crew.)

This lead to a new job title for the next 30-40 minutes: Exhibit Interpreter.

To be honest, think I am a much better teacher/ presenter than writer!! Maybe a tad too good because they asked A LOT of questions. They were really really good questions too: "How do people become a professional sailor?"; "Do they have to steer from both wheels at the same time?"; "Why is that one boat tipped over like that? (Ericsson had the keel canted over.)

It was pretty cool to have answers for most and this got me thinking: if these two have questions, what are the odds the rest of the crowd around us has the same ones? However, unlike La Rochelle where the visitors could easily ask, "What are you doing?" Not easy to do here and for very good reason. These guys have a lot to get done, but man, if each team had someone on shore, dressed properly so the visitors knew they were there to answer questions. What an impact that would have on their connection to the event and those sailors/teams!

I can promise you Mark and Kara of New Jersey are hooked! Now, if I did a good job I'll be seeing them in Boston next year!

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