Royal sightings

31 Aug
TBT – me aboard Drum 85/86 Whitbread
It has been 20 years today (31st August, 2017) since Princess Diana died. Hard to believe. Where does the time go? Well as you have probably guessed I have a story about the late (and lovely) princess. Since it’s a short story I will add one about another princess; Fergie.

I raced the 1985/86 Whitbread Round the World Race aboard the British yacht Drum. For that race HRH Prince Phillip was the patron and somehow he managed to talk Diana into handing out the prizes at the final prize giving in London. You can imagine how thrilling that was. I was still a babyfaced twenty something year old and had ardently followed Diana from the first day she and Charles were seen in public. I watched the wedding live and followed the birth of her children. They were very young back in ’86. Anyway I digress. For the prize giving they hoarded all the teams into a large room where the ceremony was to take place. We were a scruffy lot (especially the French…:), but because it was to be a fancy affair we did the best we could to scrub up. Princess Diana arrived and looked more beautiful in person than in her photos. She really was gorgeous in that British milk and honey kind of a way. And here was the good news, for our crew at least. Diana was a big fan of Duran Duran and Simon Le Bon in particular, and since Drum’s entry in the Whitbread that year had been funded by Simon and the two founders of Duran Duran they were at the prize giving. We were told (off the record of course) that the princess agreed to hand out the prizes because the wanted to see Simon. Once the ceremony was over she came over to our crew and spent quite a bit of time chatting. It was a great experience making her untimely death even more sad.

Fast forward four years and the British sailor Tracy Edwards had assembled an all-female crew for the 1989/90 Whitbread. At a luncheon in London she met Princess Fergie and Tracy being Tracy she up and asked the princess to christen the boat (which she didn’t yet have but never mind that). Fergie agreed and later on became a patron of the campaign and visited Tracy and her team when the fleet was in Uruguay. The race organizers had all the boats lined up side by side along the dock. Fergie arrived; in a dress. Now the plan was for her to stop by each boat and greet the crews. She was to walk a gangplank on and off each boat but that (I expect) seemed a bit tedious for the princess. The boats were right alongside each other so instead of heading off the gang plank she decided that she would just climb over the lifelines. Did I mention that she was in a dress? The poll that was taken after she left ran about 50:50. Half averted their eyes when the princess clambered over the lifelines, and yes, well the other half, sailors you know, actively tried to look up her skirt. I mean how often do you get to look up a princesses dress?

Fergie greeting Skip Novak on the Soviet yacht Fazisi

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Brian Hancock – Owner Great Circle Sails

This article was syndicated from Great Circle Sails Blog


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