New Zealand has a proud tradition in the round the world race and a lot of that started with Ceramco New Zealand in the early 1980s – the first New Zealand-flagged boat to compete in the gruelling event. It was a campaign headed up by Sir Peter Blake and something that captured the imagination of Kiwis everywhere. But disaster struck on the first leg of the race when the boat’s mast came down in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as the team were vying for the lead. It was a devastating blow for the crew, including Simon Gundry who is today’s guest on Broad Reach Radio.
Simon details what happened that day when the mast came down and how the crew rallied to sail 4000 miles under jury rig to complete the leg but also describes the inescapable feeling on board that they had let the nation down. He talks about their epic battles with the crew on Flyer in subsequent legs, including when they had their rivals in sight for 10 of the 24 days across the Southern Ocean to Cape Horn, and provides an insight into Peter Blake, from his unorthodox approach to crew selection to his recognition of the value of media to build support for Ceramco.
Simon is one of the characters of New Zealand sailing, and talks about the imaginary animals he had on board, his love of reciting poetry, how he managed to pull a team of yachties together to play in a rugby sevens tournament while in port in Argentina and the after-effects of one of their annual Mast Falling Down parties. He’s a terrific story-teller who was able to give a detailed insight into that 1981/82 Whitbread Round the World Race and a campaign that changed Kiwi yachting.