Team Legato drops off excess crew in Lisbon

Bullimore 'press ganged' four media men into sailing with him from Bristol

Tuesday December 19th 2000, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
Four press men invited for one day's sail last Thursday aboard Tony Bullimore's 102 ft round the world race catamaran, Team Legato, found themselves in Lisbon five days later.
Bullimore and his crew set out for a day's sail testing from Avonmouth at 0615 on Thursday, 14th December, and were due to call in at Falmouth to drop off the press contingent and pick up another photographer from France for the voyage down to Barcelona.

However, force seven winds off Lands End coupled with the promise of a severe low pressure system striking the area later, forced Bullimore and his crew to head out into the Atlantic to avoid the worst of the storm. By Friday night Team Legato was riding out the weather 200 miles west of Brittany heading due south across the Bay of Biscay. At that time it looked as if they might have to go straight to Gibraltar. "My first responsibility is to the safety of the crew and the boat. It would have been foolhardy to the extreme to head for a lee shore in that gale," Bullimore explained.

Unfortunately the crew found that none of the communication systems other than their short range VHF were working and it was impossible to tell Team Legato's shore team what was happening.

BBC cameraman, Scott Ellis from Bristol, was not amused. "I'm meant to be covering other stories this weekend and only one of us has a passport." Ellis demanded to be dropped off "anywhere" but later calmed down when he realised that he was a hostage to fortune and then mucked in for the remaining four days at sea doing all the cooking.

Rob Salvidge, a BBC radio reporter also from Bristol, said: "Bristol prides itself on its maritime traditions, but I didn't realise until now that press gangs are still one of them."

Paul Gelder, deputy editor of Yachting Monthly magazine from Emsworth in Hampshire, was equally surprised by the dramatic turn of events. "Not content with gaining maximum publicity for spending five days upside down in his own yacht four years ago, Tony Bullimore is now turning our world upside down too!

"On Saturday, the Team Legato crew attempted to reach Vigo in north-west Spain, but a force nine gale again forced them to turn away and head further south. No one was in danger, in fact we were enjoying an exhilarating sleigh ride down the Atlantic, but things were very cramped on board with only eight berths between the 14 of us," Gelder continued.

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