A behind the scenes look at the world of professional yachting 07/08/07

Professional sailing is looked upon as a glamorous occupation, many thousands of amateur sailors are enjoying Skandia Cowes Week, both on and off the water, many would dream of earning a living from the yachting industry.

Johnny Mordaunt is a professional yachtsman of the highest order; his latest victory was as crew boss aboard the 140ft ketch Hetairos winning the Super Yacht Cup, this summer in Palma.

However his skills in boat maintenance are just as impressive. He was boat captain for Ericsson, in the last Volvo Ocean Race, responsible for the overall refitting of the yacht from port to port; the safety of the crew was literally in his hands.

At Skandia Cowes Week, he is hard at work for Offshore Challenges, the round the world sailing team, headed by Dame Ellen MacArthur. However Mordaunt will not be racing the week, he is in charge of rig development for the Open 60’s 30 metre rig, a task which will take several months of long hours of hard slog. Johnny took a quick break and spoke to yachtingworld.com;

“There are some fantastic boats here for the racing, I would love to be out there but I am too busy at the moment. I will be racing, just tomorrow, in the Artemis Challenge with Estrella Damn but that’s it, I need to get this job done on time.

Basically, the aim of the project is to change the existing rig and put it back in the boat, so that it is a basis to start fine tuning it to the new sails. It’s a complex job that carries a lot of responsibility, the mast and associated rigging is built to withstand enormous loads but all of the components have to be exactly right or the consequences could be pretty dramatic.

One of the main changes we are making to the rig is the way that the components are joined together, replacing some of the steel fittings with lashings made from some of the latest hi-tech materials. The reasons for this is to save weight, to improve the performance of the boat. Also when the boat is racing, the crew can easily repair many different types of lashings from the same stock of raw material they carry on board, it is not possible to make all the steel fittings the same, so you would need to carry a variety of spares.”

Johnny Mordaunt loves getting out on the water and he is looking forward to racing at the Maxi Worlds in September. In the meantime he will be spending a lot of time in the boat yard, a world away from the glamorous world of yacht racing.

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