You didn't realise it was end of an era? Me neither, but here are some trends from the bygone Noughties
I didn’t realise we were living in an era called the Noughties until last week, did you?
Still, it’s never to late to leap on the bandwagon and look back at what happened in the sailing world in Noughties and where it got us.
It was the decade of the Swiss influence on the America’s Cup. In 2000 Russell Coutts was poached by Alinghi for a sum rumoured to be US$5 million. And from the Blackheart smear campaign onwards, so unfolded one of the murkiest, most lucrative, most litigious – and ignominious – periods in its history.
The Noughties saw piracy really grow as an organised modern-age threat. The pattern of attacks on yachts from Somalia started to accelerate in 2000. Cruising seemed even riskier when Sir Peter Blake was shot dead on Seamaster on the Amazon and we reported regularly on violent crimes to yachtsmen every year since.
This was also the era when computers came aboard for good. The huffing and puffing of the old school brigade ran out of steam and grib files, routeing software and plain old email seamlessly became essential.
It was a decade when speed sped up. Not so much at the top end of the scale, as it’s taken almost 10 years to make the jump from 48 knots to 50, but at the arguably more impressive scale of 24-hour runs and round the world records.
Back in 2000, the maxi cat Club Med stunned with a 24-hour run of 625 miles. Last summer, the fifth generation maxi multihull Banque Populaire covered 908 miles, representing a huge advance of 45% in ten years.
Back at home, the London Boat Show moved to Excel and despite having been generally positive beforehand we remarked right away that ‘it has lost its atmosphere’. The decline continued.
On the up and up, however, was Ellen MacArthur. A decade ago, fresh from her surprise 2nd place in the Vendée Globe, we thought she was already a phenomenon, bless – we had no idea how much more she would go on to achieve, and we’d no inkling she would become such a megastar.
The Noughties was the decade when fast, lightweight cruisers gained the upper hand from their centre cockpit teak-bedecked bluewater counterparts as the vessels to be seen in. It was the age when canting keels made the jump from solo sailing to monohull racing, large and small, and today even some cruising yachts.
It saw an explosion in superyacht builds and sizes, fuelled by material advances as well as vast wealth. In 2003, the 246ft Mirabella V caused wonderment as the world’s biggest sloop.
The rotating clipper-rigged 289ft Maltese Falcon outdid her in shock and awe, and superyacht owners increasingly fought it out to have the biggest toys, the most expensive artwork, the most opulent interiors.
Textile rigging, wireless instruments, composite sails, LED lights and black foulies all became mainstream, while 2-strokes were cast out and leather deck shoes lost their grip to trainer-style race shoes and flip flops.
It was a decade – the first for many – without any major yachting disasters; thankfully there were no Fastnet or Sydney-Hobart fleet catastrophes. The capsizes and structural failures of yachts in the Vendée Globe and Volvo Ocean Race temptingly suggested that only the most extreme types and crews were vulnerable.
But it’s also been a decade without any corresponding Southern Ocean tempests. In the Noughties, it was left to the Asian tsunami to remind us what a devastating and uncontestable force waves can be, never mind the wind.