Entrepreneur and serial sailing yacht owner Marcus Blackmore tells Grace Trofa his plans for cruising the Med and fundraising for Tonga
We won the Millennium Cup in New Zealand three years ago with a 25 metre Southern Wind called Ammonite; it was my first superyacht regatta. For the past 12 months, I’ve had a 29 metre Southern Wind, but it’s been a bit of a nightmare because of Covid-19. Here in Australia, we were not allowed to have the right amount of crew on board.
I was disappointed that there was nowhere to go so I made the decision to sell the boat. I even booked the ship to send it to Europe, but then my darling wife, Caroline, woke up one morning and said she had a dream that we were at Da Paolino restaurant in Capri, which is set among lemon trees. The kids run the place while the old man looks after one table, and after a few drinks he pulls out his ukulele. Anyway, she said if the boat is going to be in Europe, why don’t we spend three months on board. I thought, that’s a really good idea; in fact, I was kind of annoyed I didn’t think of it first!
Other than little Wednesday races, the only proper race we’ve done at home is the Australia Day Regatta, but we won the race on handicap and line honours. Now the boat is being shipped to Europe for the Giorgio Armani regatta and then we might do the Maxi World. I just want to do regattas now. My last ocean race was with Bob Oatley on the first Wild Oats. They called me the offshore strategist, which is another name for the eager guy on the rail. I spent 350 miles sitting on the bloody rail!
I have a wonderful friend called John Marshall, who once told me that you need the following three things in your life to be happy. You must have something to do; you must have someone to love; and you must have something to look forward to. And what we are looking forward to now is three months in the Med.
My favourite cruising ground is Fiji. Cruising in the Pacific is very different than the Med. It’s amazing to spend time with people who don’t have anything and yet are still happy. It’s a shame that people don’t learn that lesson before they get on the gravy train of trying to make more money all the time.
The adventurer Don McIntyre is a good friend of mine. When he was building a little yacht club in Nomuka, I was supporting him and for the Millennium Cup race, we sailed under the flag of the Royal Nomuka Yacht Club, not that they had a flag. Anyway, Don arranged for us to go swimming with whales off the island of Nomuka, which is part of Tonga. It was surreal. They stare you in the eye and watch you; the interaction is unbelievable.
We love to spend time in the South Pacific. We’ve built an evacuation centre in Fulaga and welcomed the locals on board Ammonite; we’ve had as many as 72 people dancing and singing on board. It was so disturbing to see those images of destruction from the volcano and tsunami in Tonga. It is just a black landscape now; everything is gone. To help, Don and I have set up a fund asking yacht owners to contribute towards the cost of 35 fishing boats for the people of Tonga. For more information, visit mcintyreadventure.com/help-tonga.Read More/On board Ammonite with serial sailing yacht owner Marcus Blackmore