Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Boat godmothers

It is pretty standard stuff for kids to have godparents, but did we miss the memo about boats having them? Maybe there is something in the Volvo Ocean Race sailing instructions that each entry must designate a godmother, as the last two launchings have had them. First it was the splashy Hollywood style launching of the PUMA team’s VO 70 - named ‘il mostro’( aka The Monster) - with goddess Salma Hayek as the boat’s godmother. Now Team Russia christened its boat Kosatka, (Russian for Orca, Killer Whale), and have designated Birgitta Westerberg, co-founder of the Solntse (Sun) Foundation charity for sick and underprivileged children in St Petersburg, as godmother to the boat.

Does anybody know if the rules are the same for boat godmothers as they are for person godmothers? While it is easy to be dazzled by the PUMA graphics and marketing muscle, how about the Russian team breaking slightly from tradition, with the christening attendees toasting the boat not with champagne but with a shot of Nemiroff vodka.

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At 2:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Godmothers

Ship christenings have come a long way since the Viking era, when ships were launched with human sacrifices to appease the gods and protect the new ship and its crew. While good fortune no longer requires human sacrifice, it does seem to require the human touch of the celebrity sort.

Ceremonial evolution

Traditionally, important ships were “christened” by royalty or by the ship’s owners as they were launched from their building blocks into the sea. To mark these occasions, bottles of champagne or sparkling wine were broken against the ship’s hull. Over time, the ritual duties were passed from high-ranking men to high-ranking women. In either case, the ceremony was meant to bring good luck to the ship and those who sailed on it.

Today’s “godmothers,” as the modern launchers are called, may no longer hobnob with the queen, but they are certainly high-profile standouts. Some attract lots of prized media attention for the boat, others act as true guardians of the boat.


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