Rolex Fastnet Race: Rambler owner and crew interviewed in Baltimore

Rambler 100 capsize Fastnet Rock August 2011

Driving into Baltimore village on a bright and sunny Tuesday morning, it was hard to believe that the weather the day before was so gristly that the emergency services had difficulty locating the twenty-one sailors whose boat, the Rambler 100, had capsized during the Fastnet Yacht Race.

In the early morning, as the village was slowly coming to life, the twenty male members of the crew – the only female member was in a hospital in Kerry and making a good recovery from hypothermia – were easily identifiable by the fact that they were busy hanging their red and black all-weather gear out to dry on the railings of their temporary new homes in Mariner’s Cove.

Inside one of the large and attractively-furnished houses, the crew, all grouped together, seemed relaxed but alert, as if still on duty. They continued to work, doing whatever needed to be done: They washed their gear, put the last of their wet clothes into the tumble dryer, and prepared simple meals.

By their actions, they demonstrated, more than words ever could, how it is possible for a crew of twenty-one people to equably live and work together in such close quarters – whatever the circumstances.

Despite their ordeal the night before, none of the sailors – who came from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England and America – seemed to be suffering from shock. None of them spoke about their rescue in an overly-dramatic way.

They all seemed stoic: Calm and quietly confident, but keen nevertheless to express their gratitude to everyone who participated in their rescue, and made them feel so welcome in Baltimore.


Local people showed their hospitality in a variety of ways: They provided the crew with everything they had – from the clothes on their backs, to the groceries in the kitchen, the stockpile of new toothbrushes on the sideboard and the large pile of chocolate bars on the table.

George David, the owner and skipper of the 100ft US-registered sailing boat, is 69 years old and based in Connecticut, USA. The former chief executive officer of United Technologies, which is one of the biggest corporations in America, is measured in his speech, clearly very resilient, and forthright. A real ‘straight-from-the-hip’ kind of guy!

‘We don’t need to sensationalise this,’ he told The Southern Star. ‘We had a 100% outcome with no fatalities in challenging circumstances, and that’s a tribute to the quiet professionalism of the crew and the rescue services.’

‘No one died here,’ is a quote made famous by Sonia O’Sullivan’s father. Talking to George David, you get an idea of the kind of grit you need for the rough and tumble world of business, and the rough and tumble world of international sailing.

Sailing is George David’s hobby. It’s a challenging hobby, and an expensive one to boot. But, with a small smile, the mega-wealthy owner of the Rambler 100, which is recognised as being one of the most impressive racing yachts in the world, said: ‘We have to do something with our spare time.’

Recalling the events of Monday, August 15th, he described how, having passed the Fastnet Rock, they had gone about six or seven miles before the keel fin fractured and came off at around 5.40pm. Thirty seconds later, the Rambler 100 was upside down in the water.

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