For the second year in a row LCSC members were successful in France in the Alumni Business Cup, an annual European regatta whereby participants from all business schools fight with each other in a fun combination of sailing and non-sailing events.
The sailing, we know, is fun enough already. The non-sailing is even more entertaining (or embarrassing), as you see boys & girls of any possible nationality and culture playing in anything from poetry competitions, military naval simulators, building a model bridge in a set time with woods, paper & pencils, or improvising and performing a marketing slogan.
The event dates back to 1992 and is typically held either in France or in the UK (Solent) always on one-design boats. Participants are from all over Europe: Bocconi, IMD, Insead, IE Madrid, Istituto de Impresa, Erasmus Rotterdam, UN Lisboa, and always a strong contingent of UK schools (LBS, Imperial Cranfield, Manchester, Warwick, Bradford).
As for last year, I was lucky enough to gather a strong crew to defend the colours of INSEAD and our title won in La Rochelle. Current and past Corinthians include nothing less than Chris Winnington-Ingram, Chris Hart, Colin Smith and Jeremy Warren, supported by not (yet?) Corinthians James Pitt, Anthony Prince and Jarne Elleholm.
Last year had seen our very tight battle till the very end with the Imperial crew, decided on the water by one point on the last race, and "onshore" by a rowing and quiz competition. The victory had equalized the ten-year score to 5-5 between Cranfiel and Insead, with obvious expectations or revenge and defence this time round.
This year's event was held in Brest and hosted by the Naval academy during the May Bank Holiday week-end punctuated by a cold drizzle. We sailed one-design JOD 35 (flat bottom, huge main and kite, very fast downwind) in a combination of windward-leeward and passage races, made very challenging by the tidal currents in the "Rade the Brest" and corresponding acceleration in the "goulet" leading to the Atlantic, all interspersed with the spectacular but not very reassuring Breton rocks most of you are surely familiar with.
The onshore contest, engineered by the Ecole Navale, was a highlight in the event. Each team had 15 minutes to run on the state-of-the art navigation simulator of the Ecole Navale. The simulator features 3 command bridges all interconnected and centrally controlled so as to simulate any type of environment: Brest, Cherbourg, Nantes, you name it; you may steer an aircraft carrier or a stealth cruiser; fog, night, swell, tidal stream all these parameters can be adjusted. The realism of the 360° display was quite amazing, to the point where you had to grab the rail when the ship started rocking. Great fun. Better than a video game, with the most amazing event being a military corvette sinking after hitting a sailboat!
Our racing strategy, well devised in the bus leading us from Brest to the Airport, was to apply the famous principle: "the best race tactic is to have superior boat speed". To this effect let's not underestimate the heroic gesture of Mr Warren who did a thorough scrub of the hull in the early hours of the morning! But, well, as always, it did not run EXACTLY as planned, due to a combination of very good scores combined with navigational and tactical errors. You may say we wanted to leave the thrill to the end. Eventually it worked out ok, and again it was decided on the last day by our victory of the last race after an OCS start in the previous one, compounded by the unsuspected poetry skills of one team member who shall remain unnamed. Insead 6-Cranfield 5. Next year, Italy in May!