Top navigator Mike Broughton is in Antigua racing aboard the British-based, Russian yacht Murka. We find out how he became involved with the Russians and the Swan class in particular

Top navigator Mike Broughton is in Antigua racing aboard the British-based, Russian yacht Murka sailing with British team mates Dom Mee, Ian Findlay, Louay Habib, Andy and Jane Mclelland, and the Russians. We caught up with Broughton during yesterday’s third race to find out how he became involved with the Russians and the Swan class in particular.

Having sailed with the part British, part Russian crew aboard Murka at Antigua Sailing Week last year it was interesting to see how the team had improved and find out from Broughton how the team is progressing. The South Coast race, a long figure-of-eight with a few added loops, in the building breeze off English Harbour was child’s play for Team Murka who, after a good start, worked the boat well up the long beat and pulled out a handy lead over closest rival Disco Inferno (First 47.7). Unfortunately for Team Murka, who suffered with a couple of not so impressive mark roundings, the British team aboard Disco Inferno sneaked through at the last minute to win by just seconds on corrected time.

“What’s interesting,” says Broughton is how much Mikhail [Mouratov, the owner] has improved. It’s quite usual for professionals like myself being brought in, to get frustrated with guys who are new into the sport and wanting to helm. Mikhail is doing incredibly well, he’s enthusiastic and he listens to what’s being said. Okay he’s got a long way to go, but he accepts that.

” My advice at the beginning, when I first got involved, was to get a small boat and just get out there and spend as much time as you can on the water. He did just that, bought two small 24ft one-designs and raced as much as he could and pulled me in for Cowes Week.”

Broughton first became involved with Team Murka through Whitbread sailor John Giblet when he sailed with some of the Murka team aboard Assuage in 1990. “When the team moved over to Murka I got involved with doing a lot of weather routing for the boat. They kept saying they wanted more and more of me so it’s turned into quite a big commitment.”

As well as navigating for Murka Broughton finds himself involved with several other Swans and has a busy year ahead including an interesting project with another Swan 45. Broughton explains: “I’m project managing a new Swan 45 ‘Hawk’ with Dave Bedford and Nigel Bramwell. It’s a bit difficult balancing the two but it should be very rewarding. Also, in a couple of week’s time I’m going off to sail another Swan, Stay Calm, and a Swan 70 in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge.

“When I come back from that I have another six or seven Swan 45 events, and in July I’ve also got the Tour de France à la voile, which I really enjoy, that is the best sailing. I’m the old fart who goes out with the British Students team, and that’s my fifth year of doing that. Then it’s helping out with a mixture of other keelboats, and then back to the Swan 45 for Cowes Week.”

As far as Murka is concerned Broughton will continue to race with the team but on Mouratov’s new Swan 45. According to Broughton the team have been training during the winter out of Hamble and the new boat is going really well. Broughton concluded: “Jim Saltonstall joined us for a week of training and that made a huge difference. He calls Mikhail the King of Russia and us ‘little ferrets’. The Russians love him. I enjoy sailing with the Russians, although it’s hard work at times with the language problems. This year should be a lot easier with the Swan 45. It’ll be easier to sail because it’s a real racing boat as opposed to a cruiser racer and with good team work there’s potential to do really well on the Swan 45 circuit this year.”