A catch up with Stu Bannatyne

Originally published on 21st April 2020 Vitorlázás magazine

Photo credit: Martin Keruzoré / Volvo Ocean Race

Hungarian sailing magazine Vitorlázás caught up with Doyle Sails sailing legend Stu Bannatyne over lockdown to talk about his experiences of sailing for Hungarian race team Wild Joe and how sailing might evolve in a post Covid world.  

Stu And Maverick
Stu Bannatyne with crew on Infiniti 46′ Team Maverick © Hannah Cotterell Media

How are your days in quarantine?

Not too bad, it is quite nice not having to travel so much although I also miss the travel and racing with friends. I can still get a fair amount of Doyle Sails work done from home and no excuses now for putting off the home handyman job list!

What effect do you think Coronavirus will have on sailing and the industry in the future?

It is really hard to predict. I am hopeful that sailing as a pastime will rise in popularity as it is such a great, pure get away from it all sport. As far as the racing side goes and the industry, I am fully expecting a long road to recovery as for sure many boat owners have been adversely affected. Sailing and racing especially on bigger boats is still very much a luxury activity and will suffer for that.

Is there a chance to continue the races before the vaccine is discovered and spread?

I think for sure yes. At first local activity and races and then expanding slowly into more regional, national and finally international events. I am sure that countries will have very strict border controls for a long time to come and health certificates will probably be required to enter foreign countries. So there might be a few more hoops to jump through on the paperwork and travel planning and this will likely become the new normal but is really not too onerous I think.

As one of the most experienced sailors on Earth, what changes would you make to the ships in the future?

I would love to see wider use of foils and DSS in particular. The foils provide easy improvements to performance and comfort that can be accessible for all sailors whether racing or cruising.

Doyle Sails is the most innovative company right now. How do you see the future of sail making? What will change in these post-viral times?

In sail making we are constantly looking for new ways to innovate, whether it be materials used, construction techniques or the software tools to develop and accurately model the sails in the design phase. A huge effort is being undertaken to find environmentally sustainable solutions for sail making. Post viral times I think customers will be more aware of the green solutions available and this could see greater demand in this area.

What is your opinion about the Hungarian Wild Joe team – will you continue working with them? What are your best memories?

For me the Wild Joe team is a great blend of characters that work well together onboard and socially. I always look forward to racing with the Wild Joe team and I hope that relationship continues! Without going into too much detail the most vivid memories involve their insane ability to work hard, race hard and party hard!

Are you planning to visit Hungary or Lake Balaton if the flights start?

When flights and schedules permit I am looking forward to ways of incorporating a trip to Lake Balaton. I have attended my brother’s wedding in Budapest which was a great experience, I would love to see more of the country.

In Hungary, as a recreational sport, you can sail with two people on board in the lock down. What is your message to Hungarian lake and sea sailors? What is the best thing they can do in the coming weeks, months?

Remember that safety for yourself, family and friends is number one. If you can enjoy some sailing time during this crazy period then go for it!

Wild Joe sailing in the Maxi Rolex Cup 2019. Photo Credit: Gianfranco Forza
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