VILAMOURA, PORTUGALWith clear skies and wispy breezes setting the stage, Grant Dalton and his crew on board the megamaran Club Med spent most of Tuesday this week catering to a phalanx of journalists who have been invited here to Club Med da Balaia to understand more about this boat and the project that five-time Whitbread veteran Dalton has put together. This is how hes scheduled to spend most of the week with just over two months remaining before the start of the event for which this behemoth was builtThe Race. If the 42-year-old Dalton or any of the Club Med crew are at all anxious about being diverted from preparing the boat, their behavior today gave no indication. Dalton and company lingered over lunch at the Marina de Vilamoura, then, serenaded by a duo of guitarists in multiple languages, they casually pushed off the dock and headed out with 15-plus journalists signed on as guests.
On the previous day, Dalton and the Club Med crew had followed the same agenda, with a little more encouraging wind conditions. Reportedly, the boat logged speeds over 29 knots and easily outpaced a twin-engine cigarette chase boat doing stand-in duty as a photo platform. Today, Poseiden wasnt in the mood for speed, and the big blue catamaran spent the afternoon idling her way around the coastline off this popular resort.
Though this reporter wasnt presented with much of an opportunity to assess the performance potential of this machine, its clear that the team Dalton has assembled offers credentials that are second to none. This determined Kiwi has surrounded himself with some of the best ocean-going multihull talent on the planet in co-skipper Franck Proffit and crew members Herve Jan, Jacques Caraes, Fred Le Peutrec, Ed Danby, Nicolas Pichelin, and Jan Dekker. And his trusted mate Mike Quilter, who has raced three times around the world with Dalton, will head up the navigation efforts. All told, the team represents a collective 21 racing circumnavigations and countless transatlantics. Could a team for this event have a deeper resume? Not likely.
Tonight, the Club Med crew and its handlers will join the 30-plus journalists from around the world for dinner, and then tomorrow its more of the same. Log on Thursday for a more in-depth look at the rocket ship that will carry these talented sailors around the globe this winter.
Hanging with Club Med by Dan Dickison10-19-2000