I’ve had the chance to exchange a couple of emails with Marcus recently, in between dentist appointments, work on his Mini and trying to find an apartment. Sorted and kind of structured, here is a brief interview with him.
Marcus, you have lived on board Brooklyn Express for quite some time now. How do you cope with (or enjoy) the basic living? And are you not a wee bit envious of folks having a good rest in a camper or an apartment?
I enjoyed living on Brooklyn Express … well, at least in the beginning, later on I simply didn’t mind. I am now in Nantes in a “real” apartment (rented by a Mini sailor) and I feel like living in a palace. Well, the apartment is not much bigger than a Mini 6.50, and there is also limited standing room in the poorly designed kitchen and bathroom of the attic apartment. I am banging my head constantly and can only stand up crouched in the kitchen, bathroom, and when going up the stairs. And being an attic apartment, it was unbearingly hot until a few days ago.
Am I complaining too much? Temperature wise, my Classe Mini TipTop was so much better, and not much worse in many respects compared to the apartment.
I think living on a Series Mini is pretty much like living in a VW van, although I agree that it is impossible to live on a Proto: No port holes (no light, no ventilation), and much less living space due to kanting keel, water tanks, and a much lower deck. But living on a series boat is pretty good. I also knew that living on the Mini would be temporarily, and this week I have found a beautiful new apartment full of light, with a great bakery and bar downstairs, and in great quartiers in Nantes. Nantes is a very green, artistic (artistic, not autistic!) and relaxed city. And I love France, the French and the French food.
How has spending so much time on and with your TipTop influenced your sailing skills, especially with regards to those Classe Mini racers?
Great question. Disappointingly, living on my Mini somehow diminished the urge to sail – since you wake up on your boat, live on it, and you finish your day on it. Thus, your desire to wake up and set sails and go sailing is somehow lower as when you live an hour’s drive away from it. I think this is the biggest drawback of living on your Mini 6.50 for too long. It is a little bit like moving in with your girl friend – it works out great in the first week, and then…
I don’t think my skills developed that much but I think I have more routine, feel more comfortable, and I have to think less while doing the basic sailing manoeuvres. Also, I am less stressed out when going in and out of harbours, which I now do not find that stressful anymore, which is a huge plus. Also, sailing in stronger winds became a little more routine, and more fun. I worried incredibly in stronger winds at the beginning of the season… I still do, but I am happy now in up to 25 kts of wind.
Your long term goal is the Mini Transat 2017, plus all the parties in Lorient up until then. How are you getting on, especially after your disaster with the spi a couple of months ago?
The spi problem in itself was not such a big deal, more the sum of the tiny disasters over the season. Once the small disappointments accumulated – which seems to be normal for Classe Mini sailors and compared to others I came away lightly – I realized I needed to, and wanted to, re-calibrate my goals. First the fun, then the business goal(s) and the ambition. Now I just go out sailing, enjoy it, and try to let the vibe of the project and my ambitions grow and develop again. After a long winter of daily work at and on the boat, plus working on the logistics, I felt I was wrapped up in way too much ambition and work. There was not really any room left for the fun and enjoying the fruits of labour, the move to France, and all the expenses.
I will go to Lorient this week to sail, and I enjoy following the campaigns of my fellow Classe Mini sailors. I will head up to Dournanez (the Mini Transat starts in a week and boats and sailors now assemble for the race) to soak in the vibe and to continue to watch, listen and learn. It will be great to see what is going on with the gang, especially knowing that not all what glitters is gold. With that I mean that many Mini sailors feel that the goal of participating in the race is now less worthwhile than they thought it was before starting their 1-2 year campaign. It is tough, constant work, fairly one-dimensional, and peppered with daily and routinely expensive disappointments, setbacks and accidents left and right. I know of only very few sailors who will not be selling their boat after the Mini Transat. It is just not sustainable for the majority, and friends, family and companies who donated to your campaign once possibly see their help as a one-off, a helping hand, and not a yearly, repeating payment for many decades to come. Knowing this, I think many Mini sailors will move on after the Mini Transat, which will be sad since you may not meet them anymore. It is a traveling circus with all its pros and cons.
Now that you are about to move to Nantes permanently you are also thinking of going back to being a professional drummer. Why’s that, money reasons or something else behind it?
Oh my god, today I would not earn a dime with my drumming skills. Back then I had already a deficiency in talent and creativity, and I was only to get by because I practiced a lot. My urge to play again is caused by listening again and again to Nathalie Merchant’s new record (Shawn Pelton on drums) and to “Stadium Arcadium” by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Thankfully, drumming has moved on so much since I stopped playing, especially listening to these two drummers. Economically, 25 years ago it was much easier in Frankfurt to make money with bands since there were still some US clubs around Frankfurt which paid handsome money for average bands to play cover songs. Drumming is also much more fun as a hobby, and almost no fun at all as a job. But my best friends are all former band mates, so playing in bands may be a good start to meet people in Nantes, where only a few Mini sailors live. It seems like a great city to hang your hat for a while.
How are your teeth?
Haha… well, the teeth have been repaired here in Nantes by a very nice dentist lady with a book collection in the waiting room similar to the one in the MoMa store. You can not see anymore that the tooth was broken at all …
Many thanks, Marcus, for your lines, and lots of good luck with settling down in Nantes, getting used to your drums again plus of course the future development of your goal: to sail and complete the Mini Transat in 2017. I shall be looking forward to an update from you.
For getting in touch with Marcus directly, please check out his homepage (Marcus Demuth Ocean Racing) or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.