I was gutted to miss Duran Duran playing in Monaco in September, owing to some meetings in London that I couldn’t escape. But you’ll never believe what happened the following weekend, when I was in Singapore to cover the Grand Prix for Channel 4. I had been rushing to get on air, and the lift in the hotel was absolutely rammed with people going up and down, leaving me panicking a bit because I didn’t want to be late. Then the doors opened and there was Simon Le Bon standing there. So we embraced – I’ve known Simon for a long time – but that meant I missed the bloody lift again!
I was lucky to get on air in time and got a few looks from the producers. Simon’s wife, Yasmin, is mad about Formula 1 – they live in Oxford near all the teams. I’ve sailed with Simon on a number of occasions and raced at Cowes Week with him on Charles Dunstone’s old boat Hamilton.
Duran Duran had been in Monaco to play at a Ferretti Group event. Last year they had Elton John, whose drummer, Nigel Olsson, I know very well. He lives in Henley in Oxfordshire. For some reason when I was living in Oxford there was an amazing group of rockers living down the road in genteel little Henley. But Simon is an absolute lunatic for boats – he’s even done the Fastnet.
At the time of writing I was fully wrapped up in the closing stages of the F1 season. They get me in to be Mr Nasty and dig up the dirt on all the teams. The people from McLaren aren’t talking to me at the moment, nor those from Ferrari.
But I’m doing my job as a journalist to find out what’s going on. I remember McLaren got really upset with me five or so years ago when I revealed their star driver, Lewis Hamilton, had agreed a deal with Mercedes. They said I was vindictive and horrible and all sorts – but three weeks later it came out that he was moving to Mercedes. I’m lucky to be in a privileged position in F1, because I was a team boss. I’ve won Grands Prix, and people just tell me things. I have no idea why, but they do.
While all this was going on, I was glued to news about the Caribbean. To see Irma do so much damage is a reminder of how fragile everything is. But I’ve decided that, unless anything else happens, we will be taking the boat across and doing a Caribbean season as we always do. The islands need whatever tourism and income they can get, and I’d urge all other owners who are in two minds about it to commit. The thing that really brought it home was seeing the damage at the Bitter End Yacht Club, because that is a place I’ve spent a lot of time at over the years.
We’ve also decided that the regular winter work that we had planned to do in Palma, we’ll now do in Antigua. Not because of cost, but because it’s our little way of supporting local businesses. They’re bloody brilliant at what they do and there is no substitute for revenues. I understand people might feel a bit awkward about turning up in a superyacht off a devastated island, but I think they’ll get a warm reception. I can’t wait to head out there and spend a bit of time on deck. I’d encourage all owners reading this to do the same and help the Caribbean get back on its feet.
Eddie Jordan’s fee for this column has been donated to charity.