James Blake Onboard Reporter in Volvo Ocean Race
“Long before Peter Blake was killed by a Brazilian pirate in the Amazon in 2001, he talked at the dinner table with his young son James about the privileges that came with successfully sailing around the world,” writes Christopher Clarey in an article for The New York Times.
“He always told me that you couldn’t put your elbows on the table until you’ve gone around Cape Horn,” said James Blake.
“Blake, now 31, has joined the club at last: rounding “the Horn” this year during the Volvo Ocean Race, the grueling round-the-world event that his father competed in five times — and won once — when it was called the Whitbread,” reports the article.
“Blake is in the midst of his first participation, and he is playing a very different role than his father, who was a skipper and central figure worldwide in yachting until his death at age 53.”
“He is an onboard reporter, or OBR — one of 10 men and women hired by the race to deliver video, photography and written material from the boats. The OBRs are, by job definition, fly-on-the-deck observers and are not permitted to help with the performance of the yachts.”
Corinna Halloran, a former onboard reporter once said: “The most important thing is telling the story, but it’s a fine line we all have to dance between telling the good, the bad and the ugly.”
That has been “particularly challenging during this edition of the race, which has twice turned tragic”.
“In January, a fisherman was killed after the Danish-American team, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, collided with a Chinese fishing boat. Then in March, John Fisher, a British sailor with the Hong Kong-based team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, was lost at sea and presumed dead after being swept overboard about 1,400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn,” reports the article.
“Blake might not be an offshore racer, but he shares his father’s adventurous streak. In 2012 he rowed from Australia to New Zealand with three companions, losing about 40 pounds during the 51 days it took to complete the crossing. He and a friend are attempting to develop a foiling kite boat to make a trans-Atlantic crossing,” writes Clarey.
“A cameraman by trade, he has focused, until now, on wildlife and historical documentaries, including work on the British polar explorer Ernest Shackleton.”
“I’ve never really covered sport before,” said Blake. “Lots of sharks and whales, but this popped up, and it’s a bit of a challenge really. I like filming expeditions and people going through a bit of hardship, so for me this has been a chance to look into that basically, and it’s also been quite nice from a personal point of view seeing what Dad went through.”
“The highlight so far for Blake was rounding the Horn: documenting the huge seas and seeing the albatrosses his father spoke about so often.”
Article Source: New York Times, Christopher Clarey, May 17, 2018
Image Source: Twitter – International yacht paint Europe Photo by James Blake