Few yachtsmen have cruised as far and wide as Marcus Blackmore. From the fjords of Alaska down to the remote islands of the South Pacific, he's built up a pretty spectacular yachting resumé over the years on board his Southern Wind sailing yacht Ammonite.
As he prepares to take delivery of his brand new SW96, Blackmore recounts some of his most memorable moments travelling the world and shares his cruising calendar for 2021 in the latest episode of At Home With BOAT.
Blackmore wasn’t in the market for a new boat but when Southern Wind showed him what they had in build he was sold. “I really love a big maxi and it’s just a bigger version of what I had,” he said. The 29 metre racer-cruiser, also named Ammonite, is the third hull in Southern Wind’s 96 series and hit the water at the end of August 2020. “Ammonite saves me thinking about a new name."
As an experienced regatta racer, Blackmore has had his fair share of victories on the racing circuit, testing the mettle of his first Ammonite at the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta in 2016 and scooping the win at the New Zealand Millenium Cup in 2018. This time, he’s hoping to secure another Millennium Cup victory in 2021 with the latest Ammonite, and will be heading to Auckland for the Mastercard Superyacht Regatta. “That will be our first test to see whether this boat is any good or not. We've spent quite a bit of time trying to optimise it and it’ll be interesting to see how well we've done our homework.”
With a lightweight carbon fibre hull, a lifting keel, twin rudders and a fixed bowsprit, Ammonite certainly has all the credentials of a race winner, but, as Blackmore points out, “you never really know until you get on the racetrack so we'll see what happens.”
After New Zealand, the plan is to head north towards Fiji and the Lau Islands, with Vanuatu and New Guinea on the agenda too. “I'm not sure then whether we're going to go west and do some regattas in Asia, or we might go to Tahiti again. I don't want to be too planned. I think being a little unplanned adds a bit of mystery and a bit of beauty to the whole thing.”
Some of the world's most remote islands scattered throughout the South Pacific might appear well off the beaten track to most, but Blackmore has become familiar with the region over the past few years. In the episode he shares some of his incredible stories from his travels in the area - like the time he became an honorary chief in Samoa, being offered three pigs and four baggy shells for his step daughter’s hand in marriage in New Guinea, or when 70 local Fijians were dancing in the galley of Ammonite. “You don't get those experiences in the Med or the Caribbean," he said.
Blackmore also likes to give back to the local communities across the South Pacific whenever he's there, be it through giving football boots or reading glasses, and urges those looking to travel to the region to do the same. “They'll love you forever. It's just a beautiful experience.”
“I've spent my whole life working hard so I make more money so that I can buy a faster car or a bigger boat with a genuine belief that I'm going to be happier in my 96-foot boat than I am in an 82-foot. These people are all really happy and they've got nothing."
"I think the older you get in life, suddenly the money's not as important as it was when you were younger, and it is about happiness, it is about your friendships and the people that surround you that suddenly take on a greater importance," said Blackmore.
When he’s not halfway around the world making friends with the locals in Fiji, he can be found at home in Sydney. “A good weekend for me on the Pittwater is with the wife and the two dogs out on the boat.”