One key thing that was an amazing constant throughout the Lucozade Challenges was that no matter what far flung corner of the world we found ourselves in, we always had an awesome, local guide to train us and look after us.
For the last challenge, yacht-racing in the Caribbean, we had this guy, Rob Brinkworth.
An Englishman through and through, Rob took great pride in telling us about the Stars and Stripes yacht we were to race, he’d been looking after the boats themselves for years. In the short time we spent on St Maarten, Rob educated us all in the ways of the 12-metre challenge, he made us feel confident enough to handle this multi-million dollar winner of a vessel and at the same time made sure that we respected his word and his skill as a fine seafaring yachtsman.
A fantastic teacher, I remember Rob expressing to us at the end of the week how much he had really enjoyed coaching us all in the science behind sailing and reminisced about his days as an instructor educating school teachers on how to sail, preparing them for a Summer of PGL (a UK institution set up for children to take part in activity courses, such as sailing). He had rediscovered his love of sharing knowledge and, as we left St Maarten at the end of the week, I sensed that maybe there might be change in his future.
Sadly, Rob died last week.
Struck down by an aggressive illness, his life was cut short before he could put any such plans into action.
I heard the news late yesterday afternoon. Al, one of the winners from the challenge, had stayed in touch with Rob after we left. After he told me I immediately started trawling through my files… The following video is put together from all the footage I took while under his tutelage.
Rob, this is for you mate:
While waiting for the video to export, I checked through my notes to clarify a few dates and I found this entry, the last one I made before we left the Caribbean –
Moleskine entry: September 16th, 2009
“Later at the bar that evening, Rob tells us that today’s race was kind of a big deal for him. The night before he had called a meeting between our crew, the opposing crew and the race judge. They all agreed that the race today would be ‘for real’.
You see they race these boats day in and day out and could’ve quite easily made some decisions (that wouldn’t have been obvious to us), that meant they would’ve handed us the race. Rob, having trained us all week and seen how we respected the skill and the effort that went into it, insisted that this would be the case.
He told the rest of the staff that the race was to be exactly that.
No fudging it for anyone.
“Throw everything you’ve got at us.” he told them “Try and thrash us. If you do, it’ll be their fault. If you don’t, well then.. they’re awesome. Either way, these guys will not appreciate being handed the race and will know if you do…”
Wow. What a guy. I for one am very glad he called it like that because, come the finish line, yes we came second – a very close second in fact. But boy did we earn it.”
Good luck Rob, wherever you are.
Your friends, old and new, remember you well.