It’s hard to talk about something as hyped up as the Yacht Week, without falling prey to the usual brand clichés. “It’s the best week of your life.” Every week. “It can’t be explained, it can only be experienced.” Like anything else that is unique. “It’s nothing like the real world.” Nothing like the reality we’re all used to, we get it… This post isn’t going to be a re-hash of those mottos.
On the other hand, there are the details you prefer to gloss over, especially when you’re asked for stories: the hard work, the responsibilities, the stress. When I get asked, “what’s it like working for Yacht Week?”, I know these are the things the other person doesn’t want to hear. They want the ridiculous tales from the parties, the accounts of debauchery; of things seen and done; exploits told to you in confidence the morning after.
There is no question that I have seen more craziness in the past month than just about anywhere else. “What happens on Yacht Week stays on Yacht Week,” is another motto — and not one that I’m about to break for the benefit of the entire internet. But it is interesting to think about these kind of phrases. Over the past few weeks, the main thing I’ve observed is how everyone seems to embody them while they’re on Yacht Week, even if they probably act much differently in normal life. It’s like a short-lived form of brainwashing. Everyone willing to pay the money for the vacation is effectively buying their way into a little social circle that has temporarily adopted a different set of values — solely for the purposes of partying, hooking up and generally having a good time. This is the power of the collective fantasy of “the Yacht Week”, the strength of their branding.
To be clear, this is mostly a compliment to the company and its marketing team. I’m just trying to be analytic about what’s happening… There’s no actual brainwashing going on, it’s just very effective advertising. If you want an example, check out their videos. Everyone who comes to the Yacht Week is ready and willing to buy into this fantasy and most people get exactly what they’re looking for; the fine folks who run the Yacht Week are extremely good at delivering the product as advertised.
After just one month of living inside this ‘alternate reality’ in both Sicily and Croatia, it’s hard to imagine what life used to be like outside of it. Sure, you’re running on about four hours of sleep (plus power naps) every night. You’re lucky if you get two decent meals in a day and you can’t remember the last time you took a proper shower. As a skipper, most of the time you’re sailing the boat by yourself (or parking it, in some cases), but all of that’s fine. In a way, it’s empowering. It shows you what you are capable of doing and — by the gods — you get damn good at doing it. It makes you wonder, what if life could be like this all the time…? Not necessarily the partying, but the freedom and the ability to socialize with whomever you choose. Alone on your yacht, master of your destiny. The weather and hungover clients are your only problems and, with the latter, you can always just get them drunk again.
Then you wake up one morning and your back is inexplicably hurting. You’re so stiff you can barely get move. When did I do this to myself? you wonder. Is my liver enflamed from all the drinking? Or wait, did I pull my back the other day when the anchor winch broke and I had to save it from dropping to the bottom of the Adriatic? Or maybe it was catching that drunk girl who almost fell getting into the water taxi… And you realize that you have no fucking idea. And it takes you ten minutes to get out of bed. By the end of the day you’ve popped some painkillers and you’re back into your rhythm, but a nagging voice reminds you: what if it’s worse tomorrow? Every skipper experiences some variety of this. Then the day comes when you realize: it’s time to go home…at least until next summer.
Signing off for the season.