Meet the sailors: Curtis Blewett
Curtis Blewett never complained about being the sewer man on the Version 5 monohulls of the last few Cups. Crawling around in the under-belly of the boat, through the dark and the damp, repacking sails, it was hardly the most glamorous of jobs in the America’s Cup. But the Canadian prided himself on doing a job that no one else wanted to do.
Fortunately there is no sewer on Alinghi 5, so Blewett gets to see daylight again. “Sunscreen every day!” he smiles. “It’s a huge change, and a good one. I’ve been bowman around the world a few times, and now in the America’s Cup it’s nice to be racing up on deck for a change.”
Blewett is definitely the outdoorsy type, even when he’s not sailing. He spends his spare time mountain biking and free riding. He enjoys the adrenalin of putting himself under pressure, a useful attribute for coping with America’s Cup competition. "These sports allow me to be more agile. That's one of the cool things about Alinghi, what we need on race day can't be gained just from sailing and the gym. To put yourself under the pressure of other sports hones your instincts to be more reactive under pressure."
No surprise then, that Blewett enjoys running around a fast cat like Alinghi 5. “The boat is fairly physical - although there are fewer ropes and fewer sails to haul around, which is a good thing. But it's still a very physical boat even with the powered winches. The whole thing is a great step up from the Version 5 days. I think that going back to one of the old keelboats would be like going back to public transport if your Ferrari broke down.”
Sailing Alinghi 5 is a unique experience, although for Blewett it reminds him a little bit of his time sailing around the world on board the catamaran Club Med. “There are certainly similarities, they’re both great big cats, but Alinghi 5 is very unique in other ways. The equipment is quite fragile, and you have a lot of opportunities to break things. You have to be really careful with everything you touch. It's as easy to damage something as doing what you’re trying to do. You have to be really sharp and precise with your movements.”
Having done two round-the-world Volvo Ocean Races, including winning one of them with Paul Cayard, Blewett knows all about danger, and he is not particularly overawed by the potential risks of sailing on Alinghi 5. But he retains a healthy respect for the loads involved. “With the power of the hydraulics, there is so much power at your disposal, and yet the boat is still delicate. When you’re running around the nets on the boat, it's important to stay out of the highly loaded areas where it's not necessary to hang around any longer than you need to. But it’s a really smart boat. I love sailing on it. It’s the racing I’m most looking forward to; I’m just tired of all these legal games being played. I want to get on the water and race. Just get it happening.”