Watch brands have tried many things to force me to write about their products.
I’ve been held at (fake) gunpoint and interrogated by soldiers and Ninjas at a Breitling party, forcefed Swiss chocolate a la the film Se7en at Basel, and even had to endure watches being launched using the medium of dance (in the style of the Eurovision Song Contest). But yesterday was the first time I have been bruised and battered into submission until I agreed to pen something about a brand.Yesterday morning, three intrepid retailers and I set off with the Rotary gang and the powerboat racer it sponsors Shelley Jory-Leigh. We joined her team aboard powerboats and Zapcats to head to Cowes for the annual boating celebrations.
The idea of the day was to launch the iPhone app for Rotary’s Aquaspeed watch.Of course, Rotary didn’t just have us adrenaline junkies just standing around pressing our touchscreens mutely, we had a go on a range of Powerboats, with skippers Trevor and Neil getting us up to speeds of 70mph, which feels pretty exhilarating in an open boat with the wind in your hair (and your face).Trevor (Shelley’s husband) steered us around the bay at such full force that we felt like we were in a plane taking off from a runway. The centrifugal force as he cornered the boat made you really appreciate the full potential of these awesome and powerful feats of engineering.The highlight of my day, though, was my three trips on the inflatable powerboat Zapcats.
These boats have a twin hull ‘catamaran’-style design, which they say makes the boat stable at rest but highly manoeuvrable and safe in both still and choppy waters. But with a 50 horse power engine, their power to weight ratio rivals a Ferrari sports car, so you really feel the thrill of the ride. For our day, Dan and Jack, both Zapcat aficianados despite their tender years, both took great care to make sure we were rocked and rolled in these zippy little boats, but made it back safely. These boats can do aqua acrobatic stunts such as wheelies (and I tried one out) and literally dance over the waves, they are so nimble and light. Rotary’s Tom Tope and Marc Godwin both braved the Zapcats, as did retailers Michael Whitcombe and James Pike. My suggestion to Tom that he should get the latter duo to fill out hefty orders for watches before they headed out to sea fell on deaf ears, but happily, both made it back without injury.I had two trips in fairly calm bay waters, before Dan brought me back on board for a third trip to Warsash near Southampton all the way from Cowes.
The sea was pretty choppy, and you have to hang on using just a foot stirrup and the ropes either side of the boat for balance. Dan deliberately sought out some pretty big waves for us to crash into and off of, that at times I felt we were going to fly off the end of the earth, so today my body feels distinctly recycled…Nevertheless, Rotary did get me back on terra firma, and so upheld its part of the bargain, and as my writing hand is unaffected by bruises, I’d better tell you about the app. It’s actually pretty clever stuff. You can download it free from Itunes, and there’s a short film of Shelley in action, the chance to create your own watch by choosing the bezel, the strap or bracelet and the dial, and you get to try your hand at powerboat racing in a game that tests just how steady your hands are (not very, after a few adrenaline-fuelled circuits of the Solent in Shelley’s choices of vessels, I can tell you).
But what everyone who has tried the app out loves the best is the waterproof section, where you get to create ripples over the watch you have created. It’s pretty hypnotic, and keeps everyone from ages three to 103 entertained, so Rotary managing director Victoria Campbell tells me. The iPhone-obsessed team at Retail Jeweller has been pretty mesmerised by it. Well, it’s a toss up between whether they find that more fascinating than watching my very red bruises turn very blue and then very purple.
Right – off for another corporate day. I am going tombstoning at Niagara Falls…
Daredevil editor-in-chief Jenni