Sail 8 all at sea in French venture

 

After the triumph of the Live 8 concerts, the movement's nautical arm, Sail 8, turned out to be a bit of a damp squib yesterday.

Bob Geldof had called for a flotilla of small boats to set sail for France and bring back European activists who would then head for the G8 summit in Edinburgh.

The organisers had hoped that around 70 boats would sail from Britain to Cherbourg and back to Portsmouth. In the end only four made the round trip and they returned with no protesters. Other boats were forced back by choppy seas, while the message that the boats were coming had clearly not been heard, or been ignored, by anti-poverty campaigners on the continent.

There was even disappointment for the four boats who made the full trip. Bob Geldof had been due to greet the flotilla when it returned to England but had not done so because he was too tired after the exertions of the previous night. However, the watch leader in one of the boats, Supertaff, said Sail 8 had achieved what it set out to do - focus yet more attention on the campaign. Josh Flavell said: "It still turned out well because the intention was to help publicise the whole G8 conference. No boats picked up any protesters - the French didn't really understand what was going on or what was planned."

Mr Flavell said Supertaff reached Cherbourg at about 2pm on Saturday after a gruelling 16-hour trip. It set off back to England at midnight with a few journalists but no protesters.

Greg Hill (45), from Northampton, who completed the trip in his yacht with wife, Sue (40), daughter Kate (11), and son Sebastian (9), added: "It sounded like a fantastic idea; we are a pretty adventurous family and it sounded like a good crack for the weekend. We wanted to be part of the message and I think it's really important that friendly pressure is applied so politicians can't have it all their own way."  )