Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Crew of "Black Cat" for Cape to Rio

 Our crew for the 2014 Cape to Rio Race is mostly the same as we had for the 1996 running of this race. Here are bios for two of the crew.

Gavin Muller

Gavin Muller was 21 years old on the 1996 Race. He was the baby of the crew by a long way and received the brunt of the good-natured insults and joking on the voyage from the rest of us. He took it all in very good spirits, was a great crewman to have with us and proved to be very capable in all aspects of sailing our boat at high speed across the Atlantic.

Now, 18 years later, Gavin is a much more respectable age. At least he is now more than half my own age. Gavin can't have had any permanent damage from all of our ribbing on that race because it was he that put the thought in front of me to get the 1996 crew together again for the 2014 race. Wonderful idea, Gavin.

He obviously has a good sense of the ridiculous. The bio that he sent me begins with "I started sailing quite late in life at the age of 14". Heck, most sailors wish that they could have started sailing at that age instead of 30, 40 or even 60 years old. When you are 21 then 14 must be relatively late in life. After his late start in sailing, Gavin hasn't wasted his time and has accomplished much. His achievements include:-

Sank an Optimist on the start line of his first Interschools Regatta.
Rose to captain of his Bishops High School Sailing Club
Was part of the youngest crew to sail the Cape to Rio Race, in 1993
Crewed on "Black Cat" in Cape to Rio Race 1996
Member of line-honours crew in St Helena Race 1996 and sailed return to Cape Town.
Achieved Yachtmaster Offshore in 1997, with better grades than he managed in school.
Sailed his 2nd St Helena Race in 1998 and return voyage to Cape Town.
Moved to England Feb 1999, where he still lives.
Sailed 4 Fastnet Races and all qualifying races.
Sailed 7 Cowes Week Regattas.
Sailed 8 Round the Island Races (Isle of Wight).

Gavin is married to Nicole and they have two young children, Alice and George. He is Head of Operations at one of the most prestigious catering companies in London, so I guess that qualifies him to serve us some imaginative high-class meals in the middle of the South Atlantic.
Gavin with wife Nicole and children, Alice and George.

Gavin in Solent sailing garb.

Sean Collins

In my 60 years of sailing, Sean is the one who has sailed more miles with me than anyone else. We always clicked together on boats and have confidence in each other doing the right thing when needed, including to extricate us from some silly situation into which I have put us.

Sean first sailed at about 7 years old, with an uncle who owned an Enterprise dinghy. The bug bit and he broadened his sailing experiences with the Sea Scouts. Sean's first offshore experience came in 1976 with his uncle, sailing from Durban to Cape Town on a newly-launched 45ft ferro-cement cruiser. Continuing further on the long-term cruise was thwarted by the need to finish schooling.

Sean is a surfer and spent a few years sailing Hobie cats before buying his own first offshore boat. This was a 28ft plywood double-ended ketch named "Elise". After breaking the mizzen mast she had lee-helm problems and that was what brought Sean and me together for our long association. He commissioned me to redesign the rig as a cutter. He sold "Elise" after he started crewing for me on my CW975 "Concept Won" sometime later.

Sean estimates that he has sailed roughly 10,000 sea miles with me on "Concept Won" and "Black Cat". He was my chosen partner whenever available for the double-handed races and regattas at Royal Cape Yacht Club and Hout Bay Yacht Club. He sailed with me on numerous Double Cape Races, Telkom Regattas, Old Brown Table Bay Regattas, Hout Bay Admirals Regattas, Hout Bay Double Regattas and the weekend and Wednesday night racing at RCYC, as well as the 1996 Cape to Rio Race.

Sean was in the crew of "Black Cat" right from the start, long before she even hit the water. He spent many weekends helping with building her, much of it doing a sterling and nasty job of epoxy coating and fibreglassing the joints of the drinking water tanks, to ensure that they would not fail us in mid-ocean.

Sean moved to England in 1998, with wife Lanesse (now ex-wife) and three daughters. There they spent time sailing the estuaries of the Thames and acquiring the new skills of safely navigating large tides and strong currents. Eventually they bought "Vortex", a Nicholson 35, which Sean refurbished for family cruising. In 2004 they headed South to find sunshine and spent 16 months cruising to the Canaries via France, Spain and Portugal. From there they all flew back to settle back in Cape Town. A year later Sean and his nephew double-handed "Vortex" to Cape Town via Cape Verde, Brazil and Tristan da Cunha.

Bad economic times in RSA resulted in Sean working for a few years in Bahrain, where he joined the Bahrain Yacht Club to keep in sailing. Back in RSA again, work commitments keep him away from home but he gets back to Cape Town regularly. Most of his sailing is currently  on inland waters, where he is an instructor with the youth sail training programme at Mountain Yacht Club on Ebenezer Dam.
Sean with Lanesse and daughters Abbey, Kelsey & Megan
Sean on "Vortex" at Hout Bay Yacht Club.

Gavin and Sean, I look forward to sailing with both of you again.