The Whitbread, a 31,000-mile marathon, starts on 21 September. The financial wind in the sails of Smith's entry, Silk Cut, is provided by Gallagher, the tobacco manufacturers, and Smith was appearing at Cultra as a favour to Northridge, Gallagher's senior marketing director.
With Smith at the helm, Northridge's 18ft squib took an immediate lead, and the race seemed over. Northridge, reflecting on a successful day's sailing, could rest assured that Gallagher's sponsorship input was in the hands of a reliable skipper. What Northridge did not account for was the human element. Smith, in one of those off-days at the office, lent over too far and capsized. After 15 minutes of sailing, it was an inauspicious omen for the nine-month-long Whitbread race.Reuse content