James Blake: My Life as an Onboard Reporter – Sail+Leisure
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James Blake: My Life as an Onboard Reporter

by Ingrid Hale
James Blake - my life as an onboard reporter

Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be an onboard reporter (OBR) in The Ocean Race?

Offwatch chats to James Blake about what it’s like to have the responsibility of capturing the experiences of the teams sailing in an ocean race which circumvents the world.

The 2017/2018 edition of The Ocean Race made use of roaming OBR’s, who moved between the boats on each leg. James documented the experiences for the teams of Akzonobel, Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Turn the Tide on Plastic.

James explains the challenges of building relationships with sailors when you are moving between boats and you are not a permanent member of a team. He also says that trying to maintain objectivity in every situation, whether   good or bad and the challenges of storytelling in extreme conditions when sailors are at their lowest point, can be tough.

As one of the select few people to sail in The Ocean Race as an onboard reporter, James had a unique perspective on this event.

His father, Sir Peter Blake is a sailing legend in the The Ocean Race as the winner of the 1989–1990 Whitbread Round the World Race (as it was then known) on Steinlager 2. Sir Peter Blake also held the Jules Verne Trophy from 1994 to 1997 by setting the fastest time around the world as co-skipper of ENZA New Zealand, and he led his country to successive victories in the America’s Cup.

Like his father, James is no stranger to adventure himself. Along with 3 others he rowed across the Tasman Sea, which is double the length of the Sydney Hobart race. It took 51 days from land to land, and 54 days to reach Auckland. Terrible storms kept pushing the rowing boat back, forcing them to take shelter in the cabins at each end of the boat. The longest period of time that they spent in these cabins two people up, was for 9 days as they waited for a storm to abate.

He has worked as a reporter documenting many adventures and filmed nature documentaries. And now he is working on a new boating project, which combines kiting and rowboats for ocean crossings.

Watch the full interview below.

[Tech Tuesday: My Life as an Onboard Reporter]

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