“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. Mercury’s 1971 Admiral’s Cup


by Richard Crockett

Another gem has appeared from my archives, this time in the form of a report written by Gordon Neill on the exploits and performance of ‘Mercury’ in the 1971 Admiral’s Cup series.

Gordon Neill of course was the skipper, and he had full use of the boat from April until the end of the Admiral’s Cup in August that year. He was a gruff yachtie, either loved or hated, yet he was a formidable skipper in whatever he sailed.

Ocean racing may have changed, significantly too these days, and this comprehensive report will give one chapter and verse on how he tackled the admiral’s Cup some 52 years ago now. His crew, all top-flight yachties with tons of dinghy and offshore experience, were:
Gordon Neill
John Allenby
Owen Denham
John Gordon-Thomson
Paul Green
Johan Louter
Eckhart Lutke
Bruce Mc Currach
Chris Talbot.

I found his list of “do’s and don’t’s” aboard ‘Mercury’ interesting and very relevant to ocean racing today. Here are just 7 of them, although all are worth noting:

1. Provide yourself with a soft bag to keep ALL your personal gear in.

2. Use ONE locker in main cabin to stow this bag.

3. DO NOT leave personal gear lying around ( the cure for this bad, untidy and annoying habit is over the side).

4. Use a separate pair of approved yachting shoes and/or boots for use on board. Shore-going shoes pick up pebbles, oil, grease, tar and spoil the deck and floor.

5. The two aft quarter berths are for use by the skipper and the navigator, or 2 i/c.

6. Provide yourself with suitable clothing. For fine weather shirt, shorts and/or jeans, shoes, jersey, spray smock; for heavy weather approved weather-gear, smock and lone trousers, sea boots (preferably up to knee tyre) pure woollen socks. Sea-sick, miserably cold, uncomfortable crew are a burden to themselves, their fellow crew, and the skipper, who is responsible for them.

7. Sit, lie or park yourself where you are told to. DO NOT move around unless ordered to. The fore and aft trim of “Mercury” is very important an essential.

I would suggest that everyone competing in offshore events should have a thorough read of this document.

READ IT HERE:  REPORT ON YACHT MERCURY – 1971 Admiral’s Cup Series – 004168

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