Saturday, 10 October 2015

Auckland skippers - Marguerite Delbet on 'Nomos'

I met Marguerite at a concert at the Auckland Town Hall - a string quartet playing works by Shostakovich. A Parisian lady whose family owns a 14th century castle in central France, Marguerite worked for the United Nations in South Africa and Cambodia, and learned to sail on the Mediterranean. She is Head of Democracy Services at Auckland City; and at the time was handling the fall-out from the infamous Ngati  Whatua Room Incident. She skippers ‘Nomos’, a Catalina 400. Her crew of nine is almost entirely men.
“Water is not my star sign, but it is my soul sign … I love the way my boat puts me in touch with the beauty of the Hauraki Gulf ... I have a responsible, high stress job, and sailing takes me back to nature, it grounds me.  I like to say ‘the world was discovered at five knots’ … that’s the speed Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic to the Americas.
Marguerite Delbert
"I grew up in Paris in a family of art, classical music, and literature lovers who spent a lot of time at the theatre and opera. My father was a reconstructive surgeon specialising in burns, and my mother worked as a flying nurse repatriating injured French soldiers from the Vietnam War … I  was their little princess and learned to sail Optimists on the Cote D’Azure at the age of seven. I have memories of  free diving for sea urchins in the Mediterranean, spearing them with a trident, then eating them raw on fresh baguettes and butter …

"I studied business at Lille University in Northern France and during that time I began sailing with some friends on the Brittany Coast  … In 1992 I went to work for the United Nations as a supervisor for the first elections after the overthrow of the Khymer Rouge … it was an intense and captivating experience for me, and a huge change for the better in the lives of  the Cambodian people. Then I went to South Africa as an observer in the 1994 elections when Nelson Mandela was elected. That felt very much like being part of history!
"I came to New Zealand in 1995 and had to learn sailing terms in English … I sailed a Warwick 10.6 on Wellington Harbour and in Cook Strait. I raced on Nomos  for several years in Wellington, before buying a half share of her in 2014 and when I moved to Auckland I sailed her part the way up the East Coast.
Nomos on the Waitemata
"I’ve always had a special feeling for the boat … She was built in California to the Catalina 400 design, so there’s nothing unique about her … but she’s really well designed and constructed.  Very spacious downstairs, well laid out, and comfortable to cruise on … my floating bach! My racing crew in Auckland consists of a Chilean doctor, a English video producer, a Dutch business partner and bunch of Kiwis … mainly guys!
Nomos means ‘the law’ in Greek, and when she sails in her sweet spot, particularly with the spinnaker up, it’s something special. If you can get a crew that gels you get a wonderful sense of elation … the combination of a great boat, a team of good people and a beautiful environment … it’s a unique feeling. We cruised around the Hauraki Gulf last summer, to Rakino, Waiheke, and Kawau Islands and had a magical time on Great Barrier … and a beautiful spinnaker run back to Auckland. 

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