Via 50 international broadcasters in 80 countries and ten airlines, the Oryx Quest 2005 reached an average weekly audience in excess of 134 million households in the Middle East, 120 million households across Europe and over 500 million households worldwide. In addition to this over 50 million readers in Europe and the Middle East read about the Oryx Quest in their daily papers.
The success of the Oryx Quest has been enough to convince the people in Qatar who put up the money and supported the event with their energy and enthusiasm, to place a new mega-cat on order for the next race. Winner Doha 2006 is one of the new generation maxi-catamarans but the boat is already five years old. The new mega-cat will be the largest racing multihull ever built. The next event, the Quest Qatar will take place in 2007 and be open to both monohulls and multihulls. The event will start and finish in the Middle East, but have stopovers in some of the major economic and commercial cities around the world.
Back to the 2005 race and navigator for the winning boat Doha 2006, Will OXLEY (AUS) sums up the attraction of the round the world competiton, 'during the race I had time to ponder why. Why do we do this sailing caper? What's the attraction? Why would anyone choose to be constantly damp, perennially tired, and experience periods of rough and changeable weather that leaves you physically and mentally exhausted. There are also times when it is outright bloody dangerous! Perhaps most importantly, we are away from loved ones for extended periods of time.'
'At first glance it does not seem an easy question to answer. Nonetheless it is a question often asked by those who want to understand the life of an ocean racing yachtsperson (as distinct from those that have absolutely no interest and would prefer to think that people who go sailing actually just drink gin and tonics and swan around with rich people).
It is a good question to ponder especially after more than 60 days at sea. Whilst racing, I asked a couple of the crew, in between sail changes, the question 'why' and got a variety of answers but there were some common themes which came out. They were:
'Because it is a challenge.'
'An interest in and passion for the ocean.'
'The satisfaction of being 'good' at sailing and achieving success.'
Thomas Coville and I had a long talk about 'why' and we agreed that one of the reasons we have so much passion for ocean racing is that life on board is like a micro world, where to succeed you must create a really positive environment with people getting on, looking after each other, and ALL working together to achieve a common goal. This is in sharp contrast to the wider world where this is clearly not the case. There is almost a sense of opting out and choosing a 'better world'. Perhaps a bit philosophical I know, but then again you get plenty of time to consider such things when it takes more than nine days to sail from the equator to Doha (and Thomas did study philosophy at university)!
Finally, there is just the aesthetic and beauty of it all. Every new day brings great changes to the faces of the ocean and the sky. Life becomes very simple and is reduced to basics with reward and satisfaction coming from hard work. We are dictated to by our environment. We cannot decide not to go to work today and if we do not perform at our best then we will not succeed, and in some cases the consequences may be far more serious. There is something very refreshing and satisfying about such an environment. I get a great sense of being alive, and the harder the job is the more the sense of achievement. Of course you also put your wallet way for 60-70 days so that has got to be good!'