Britain's Prime Minister Mr. Edward Heath has enjoyed an international reputation as an ocean yachtsman,?
Britain's Prime Minister Mr. Edward Heath has enjoyed an international reputation as an ocean yachtsman, ever since bringing off his greatest triumph in 1969, his win in the 640-mile (I,030 Km) Sydney-Hobart race.
He had only been sailing seriously since 1966, and for a leading politician with little time to spare, this was a prodigious feat.
Critics in Britain smile at their serious-minded, sailor Premier, but no-one can deny him his right to be named captain of Britain's three-yacht team in the Admiral's Cup, a series of races off Britain's shores beginning on July 30th.
In his yacht "Morning Cloud", he will lead his team against a 16-country field. Austria, Brazil, New Zealand and Poland are making their debut in the race. South Africa will have a full team in action for the first time.
Conveniently for Mr. Heath, the race falls during Parliament's summer recess, but yachting men say adequate arrangements have been made in case state duties require Mr. Heath's presence at short notice.
But Mr. Heath's colleagues are quite unworried by his sailing, despite accusations of time-wasting from Her Majesty's Opposition.
"We never have any trouble getting in touch while the Prime Minister is sailing", a Downing Street source has said.
SYNOPSIS: Sydney, Australia, 1969, and a record 79 yachts from six countries assemble in the famous harbour for the start of the Sydney-to-Hobart ocean race. The British were strongly represented in this gruelling 640-mile marathon, but no one expected too much from the sporting leader of the British Conservative party, now Prime Minister, Mr. Edward Heath.
Mr. Heath was then in his first year of ocean-racing, and he had only begun serious dinghy racing in 1966. The Sydney-to-Hobart race attracts the best and most experienced ocean-racers in the world, who have planned their tactics for months ahead. Among a formidable field were the United States entry "Salty Tiger".....
.....and the Australian yacht "Siska." Both yachts in fact finished in the first five.
It was a great day for the British, and for Mr. Heath, it was a coming-of-age as an ocean racer. He had bought "Morning Cloud" only in 1969, and hand-picked a really formidable crew. He himself had taken the lion's share at the helm, and as the press learned after his great win, he had gone about his preparations in a really professional way.
In April 1971 when Mr. Heath's latest yacht was launched, there could be no longer any suggestions that Mr. Heath was some kind of 'dilletante sailor'. When Mrs. Heath, the Prime Minister's step-mother, launched the second "Morning Cloud", Mr. Heath's political opponents were probably extremely worried that the boast would earn the Prime Minister grater triumph and even greater publicity. He is shortly to captain Britain's three-yacht team in the Admiral's cup series of races around Britain's shores.
Success, however, brings him embarrassments. Whenever an attractive girl is photographed on one of his yachts, bachelor Mr. Heath is mercilessly teased in the press. He engaged this pretty girl as ship's cook on one yachting trip, and she became national news. Mr. Heath process on, despite the difficulties, however. In the Admiral's cup races against international opposition, no-one will deny him the right to captain the British team on ability alone.