So this is my cranky old man moment.
I am browsing the Newport Bermuda site the other day and see a posted article by a skipper who did the race for the first time in 2012 and is sharing his thoughts for other people contemplating doing the race. "How nice", I thought to myself. Somebody who is generous with their experience and hopeful that others will get to have the same joy they got from ocean racing.
My good cheer lasted about five or six paragraphs, until in the middle of an explanation about safety he wrote "The Newport Bermuda Race is the Everest of sailing".
Really? A 635 mile jaunt that might take a longish weekend to complete is the same as the world's tallest mountain, located in the remote regions of Nepal? To be fair to the author, I had an identical reaction when the same phrase was bandied about for this year's Sydney Hobart race. Although I suppose if you consider that there are hundreds of boats and thousands of people clogging up the seas between either destination, with plenty of professionals willing and able to short-rope you to the top of these two "Everests", then maybe the comparison is a little bit more apt.
Both races are certainly iconic ocean races. Both offer a taste of danger, and a distraction from the comforts of civilization. Both could be considered an adventure if you set aside the fact that either track is criss crossed by dozens of vessels in any given week of any given year. But Everest? Pah! Try to compare either race to the Vendee Globe, the Barcelona Race, the Volvo or the Mini Transat. If your 600 mile jaunt is "Everest", what would that make those races? You are going to run out of empty superlatives pretty quickly.
The abuse of this comparison as a simple extension of the phenomena where every child gets a ribbon, or grade inflation at Harvard. We have gotten so numb to empty praise intended to make everyone feel special that we have to come up with ever more inflated ways to puff up our fragile egos. The Newport Bermuda or Sydney Hobart certainly is an accomplishment, particularly for a corinthian sailor who has never been more than 20 miles off shore. Either race may even be one's personal mountain to climb. But Everest? Don't be silly.