The Freemantle Doctor

The Fremantle Doctor always seems to be around. He usually makes his rounds at midday and finishes as the night shift takes over. As the town of Perth grew in size, so has his practice. He seems to service most of the city, and his cure for the summer heat of this western Australian town has never changed. He prescribes wind, a lot of it, and if you are on the water you get an extra special serving of ocean swell to go with it. To be precise as well as concise the Fremantle Doctor is the local name for the global phenomenon known as sea-breeze, and a walloping 18-25 knots of it, daily.

In 1987 one of the greatest chapters in sailing history was written under his auspices when Dennis Conner and his Stars n Stripes team took back the America’s Cup amid broken masts, broken boats and broken egos, all courtesy of the Doctor.

In 2011 the Doctor’s often frustrating cure had another victim. Ben Ainslie who had already won four Olympic medals (three golds and a silver) had had a hard day on the water. He decided that the TV crew following him around the racecourse was to blame. So he jumped of his Finn dinghy swam to the TV crews R.I.B jumped on board, whaled at the crew before promptly jumping off again and swimming back to his Finn.

A few meters behind him Ioannis Mitakis was sailing into the harbour exhausted but exhilarated. His goal for the event, the 2011 International Sailing Federation combined World Championships, had been accomplished. He had got Greece qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He was, after more than 1400 gruelling days of that Olympic cycle, finally, on his way to Weymouth. Ioannis didn’t do particularly well in the event, he finished 21st, but he didn’t need to. He just needed to qualify for the Olympics, the first step on his journey to an Olympic Medal, and he had done just that.