It was the Australian Sailor of the Year Awards last week and the first thought that occurred to me when I heard the shortlists was that there can't be a harder award to win in sailing at the moment than the Australian Male Sailor of the Year. Of course, winning any of the categories would be unbelievably hard too, but the men’s list reads like a Who’s Who of sailing at the moment.
Which got me to thinking how terrible it must be to be a sailor in Australia at the moment. I felt so sad as reason after reason occurred to me that I am considering setting up a charity to help the poor souls, something that might provide them with the supports and structures to wean them off the sport and help them find a nice sport which provides them a safe environment to recover from the trauma of having been an Australian sailor.
Some of you may not believe me, so here are a few reasons why it is so tough being an Aussie sailor.
1. John Bertrand
If I had to blame one man for the terrible state of Australian sailing then it would be John Bertrand. The list of charges is pretty damning.
Firstly, he inspired a generation of sailors, with the disappointing consequence of more competition, and therefore raising the bar for Australian sailors. He's essentially responsible for reasons 2 and 3 below.
To make things worse, he won the America’s Cup, the oldest trophy in sport, which hadn’t been won by any country other than America for 132 years, meaning it is almost impossible to trump his achievement.
And he did using this song as his theme music:
And he wrote a brilliant autobiography describing how he did it.
How can an Australian sailor top that?
2. Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, Nathan Outteridge, Glenn Ashby, Tom Slingsby, Vanessa Dudley (I could go on...)
Imagine turning up at a 470 event in Australia and seeing Mat Belcher and Will Ryan there.
Or a Laser event and seeing Tom Burton, Tom Slingsby or Vanessa Dudley.
Or a 49er, International Moth or A-Class Catamaran event…wait, no, scratch that – only really crazy people turn up intending to sail those boats. They’re probably beyond help.
Anyway, my point is clear – you’re not going to win a lot of trophies with these guys around.
3. Jimmy Spithill and Tom Slingsby
Jimmy Spithill and Tom Slingsby didn’t even make the shortlist. That's probably because the won the America's Cup last year, so they're a bit low profile this year.
But that doesn't mean they haven't done their bit to make life hard for Australian sailors.
As if John Bertrand hadn't already done something essentially un-toppable, they went and won the America's Cup in an almost unbelievable way. And they didn't even do it in an Australian boat.
And Jimmy Spithill sails with no clothes on too, which has to be distracting.
4. Australian Clubs are a long way away
I had a conversation with my son a while ago explaining about friends of ours who were moving to Australia. It went something like this:
Me: “Jayden (that’s a friend of my son’s) is moving to Australia. Doesn’t that sound like fun? When he’s old enough to go to school, he’s going to go to one in Australia. What do you think of that – wouldn’t it be exciting to go to school in Australia?”
Joe: “No, I don’t think I’d like that.”
Me: “Oh. Why not?”
Joe: “It would take too long to get to school.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Joe: “Australia’s too far away and it would take ages to get to school.”
Me (cottoning on to the problem): “Ah, yes. But not if you lived in Australia. If you lived in Australia then you’d go to a school near where you lived.”
Joe: *blank look*
Me: “You see, Australia is a long way away from here…”
Joe (interupting me, with a world weary voice): “I know. You already told me that.”
Me: “Indeed I did. But if you lived in Australia then it wouldn’t be far away. You’d live there, and go to a school in Australia that was close to where you lived. Do you see?”
Me: “So what do you think? If you lived in Australia would you like to go to school there?”
Joe (losing interest and turning back to his toys): “I already told you. It would take too long to get there. Australia is miles and miles away.”
Me: *blank look*
If this conversation shows nothing else, then it shows that things in Australia are a long way away. My nearest sailing club in Australia would be 9600 miles away! Imagine being Australian and having to travel that far every time you wanted to go sailing.
What’s that? If I lived in Australia then they’d be closer? But things in Australia are miles away. Just ask Joe, he’ll explain it to you.
5. My Posts are Out of Synch
This may be the worst thing of all for Australian sailors. Frostbiting posts in October? They're just starting their summer now - how are they going to get the full benefit of my words? Poor, poor Australians.
There are sharks lurking in the water around Australia. Apparently you're more likely to be killed by a vending machine than by a shark. This doesn't make me less scared of sharks, just more scared of vending machines.
Of course, there will be Australians that think what I've written is a load of nonsense. But Australian sailors are like rich people, they spend their whole life thinking they're happy never once realising how miserable they are. I'm here to help.
So if you want to help Australian sailors to an easier life then just donate to thefinalbeat.com/give-money-to-damian-he-will-pass-it-on-to-the-aussies-no-honestly-he-will. (Minimum donation €10,000.)