elusive speed

Back in 1978 I was trying to hitch a ride across the Atlantic from South Africa to Uruguay. The skipper’s girlfriend was a pretty blond. I was trying to chat her up until I realized that she was unavailable, so I switched angles. “Where is your boyfriend?” I asked, “if he’s not here on the boat?”

She replied, “he’s at Weymouth Speed Week. In England. On a boat called Crossbow.” I was just 20 at the time and a little wet behind the ears. This was big news and I have had a fascination with Speed Week ever since.

Weymouth Speed Week celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, a major milestone by any measure. It began in 1972 under the direction of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). Weymouth is located on the southwest coast of England and has hosted all kinds of crazies, and I use that term fondly, for those who want to set a record as the fastest sailboat. And it has come a long way from the early days of just sailboats. These days it’s the kiteboarders and windsurfers who have started to dominate but sadly, and probably for good reason, other venues have been chosen for those seeking the outright record…

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