Buzz Boettcher and the Graybeard team have put their names down for the Antarctica Cup

A group of sailing’s “elder statesmen” have signed up for the Antarctica Cup, the world’s richest sailing race, the Southern California-based entry, headed by Buzz Boettcher are calling themselves the “Graybeard Syndicate”.

Boettcher, in his early 50s and a former professional skipper on some of the top racing boats of the 70 and 80s and, was still actively racing sailboats in the 90s, and has got together with an old sailing buddy Bob Logan, to make use of their age and experience.

Experience is something that Buzz has “in spades”, with nine Trans-Pac races, four Fastnets, two Sydney/Hobarts, a trans-Atlantic and a Bermuda race, just being the cream on his CV.

Buzz Boettcher cut his offshore teeth on Trans-Pac races from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and though he admits the Southern Ocean is a different ball game, believes this experience will be of value.

“No doubt Southern Ocean sailing is a whole world different from doing a Trans-Pac,” he says, “but one of the things you learn early on, in being successful in Trans-Pacific races is pushing the boat just beyond the known limits.”

He adds, “you kinda look at what does it take to win a distance race, and one of the primary factors is experience.”

Then Boettcher threw down the gauntlet to his fellow Californian Paul Cayard, “obviously the premier entry in this race right now is Paul Cayard.

“It seems like I look back over when Paul and I raced each other, and yeah, he would usually beat me around the buoys, no doubt about it, but whenever we go offshore, I can’t think of a time that he was at the finish line ahead of us.”

The leader of the Graybeard team said that they were originally going to have a crew of over 50s, but then realised they needed a bowman, so brought the minimum age down to 45.

Talking about announcing his entry, Buzz admitted, “we’ll get the people who are going to say, ‘you guys are crazy, you’re absolutely nuts, somebody’s going to have a heart attack, and die on your boat’, and others who are going to say, ‘hey, go for it’. That’s part of everyday life I guess.”

He points out that there are three sailors on the current Volvo Race who are over 50, and that by the time the Antartica Cup starts in December 2004, there will be more of the current batch of round the world sailors who have reached forty five.

The Antarctica Cup is a non-stop race around the Antarctic continent, starting and finishing in Fremantle, Western Australia, and has a total prize purse of US$6.4 million.