Boats Deserve Worthy Names

Published on March 15th, 2018

They don’t name them like they used to. Yachts once known with terms of determination and fortitude have been replaced with labels better fitted for the stock exchange board than the stern of a boat. Gone is the grace, says Damian Christie, who share with us his rant on this reality.

It’s a gross disappointment that the names of boats in global events like the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup – even down to a domestic regatta like the Superfoiler series in Australia – are little more than unmemorable, unflattering billboards for their sponsors.

I thought I was relatively familiar with the VOR teams in this edition but if you asked me to rattle them off on my fingers, the only one I could automatically name is Scallywag for the joint Hong Kong/Australian entry – and that’s not even its official name! In fact, I quite like Scallywag as a name for a boat – it’s certainly better than Sun Hung Kai team!

In the Superfoiler series, we have unedifying names like Euroflex, IDTech and Kleenmaid, which are mere sponsor names. Considering Euroflex has a ‘dream trio’ of Australian superstars – Glenn Ashby, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen – flying on the foiler, you’d think a combination like that would be worthy of a more dynamic name!

The same is true of the America’s Cup in recent times (with a few notable exceptions, eg Alinghi, Luna Rossa, Artemis). Most people would know the 2017 Cup winner as Team New Zealand – but the boat’s actual name was Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand).

But I’m not betting Aotearoa will be inscribed on the Cup. When I first saw the trophy in the flesh way back in 2000, I was mortified to find that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron had inscribed the 1995 results as ‘Team New Zealand vs Team Stars & Stripes’, not Black Magic versus Young America!

It seems the days have passed when yachts not only had names untainted by corporate sponsors but they were creative and even inspirational, especially in the America’s Cup – Stars & Stripes, Australia II, Liberty, Courageous, Southern Cross, Intrepid, Gretel, Constellation, Ranger, Rainbow, Endeavour, Enterprise, Shamrock, Reliance, Valkyrie, Volunteer, etc. Many tapped into the national psyche of their homelands.

While I reluctantly accept the commercial reality of sponsors having naming rights to syndicates, it would be nice for fans to identify with creative brand names and mascots that give back a quality that the boats and their crews sadly lack today – character!

After all, we remember Australia II largely because of its winged keel and the wonderful boxing kangaroo that flew from its mast – not because Bond Corporation underwrote the yacht! How awful would the name of the 1983 Cup winner be if it had been simply called ‘Bond’! *Shudder*

If syndicates must emblazon their platinum and other sponsors on sails and hulls, so be it, but at least give the boats and sailors worthy names to sail under!

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