Contributors: Moving Experiences on Water, Racetrack, and Elephant Back

    While serving as ballast on the sailing yacht Viriella during this year’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Robb Report senior editor Michael Schulze learned that the sailors who participate in Sardinia’s summer regattas take the competitions very seriously, despite the many distractions presented by the Mediterranean island’s glitzy social scene. “The sailors look as though they could be rugby players,” says Schulze, who wrote about the Rolex race in “Sea and Sardinia”. “They have legs like tree trunks and arms like smaller tree trunks. If you get to know these men, they are not drinkers, they are not partyers. Why? For the same reason Olympic athletes are not drinkers or partyers. They are ferociously dedicated, world-class athletes. They live and work together in serious situations for—if it’s an around-the-world race—months at a time. They can’t be immature; they can’t make mistakes, because if they do, the rest of the crew will rise up and expel them.”

    At the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, guests can experience the wilderness of northern Thailand, where little has changed in the last century. “It’s nestled in an untouched area that also is a testament to the history of the region,” says our managing editor, Lori Bryan, who visited the resort earlier this year and recounts her adventure in “Animal Rites”. “Aside from a couple of international resorts in the area, it’s pretty much how you would have seen it 50 or 100 years ago.”

    But for Bryan, at least, the region and the resort’s real draw is the program that enables you to ride and communicate with elephants. “As a group, we all seemed to be challenged with getting up and getting down, which isn’t that surprising given how tall these animals are,” says Bryan, noting that her difficulties mounting her elephant, Golden, persisted over the length of her stay. Once comfortably astride the animal, however, she found the going was easy. “They are incredibly graceful and steady creatures,” Bryan says. “Being up there while the elephant was walking on flat surfaces, I never felt like I was going to fall off. Only when the mahouts [elephant handlers] led the elephants down into the river did I feel I needed to hang on for my life.”

    Like most Westerners, Bryan previously had encountered elephants only at the circus and the zoo. At the Four Seasons Tented Camp, she was able to interact with the animals and even form a kind of bond with one of them. “She truly looked into my eyes,” Bryan says of the elephant she rode. “That’s when I felt that we had established some trust—only a day’s worth, maybe, but it was enough for me. That alone was reason enough to make the trip.”

    Our automotive editor, Gregory Anderson, admits to feeling giddy about participating in the Ferrari Driving Experience at Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant, the assignment that led to his writing “Sacré Rouge!”. He says he also felt like the movie character Ferris Bueller, who, during his day off chronicled in the 1986 film, drove the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California that belonged to his friend’s father. “I was just borrowing someone else’s Ferrari and driving the hell out of it,” says Anderson.

    Anderson—whose job requirements include test-driving the world’s finest new automobiles, and who had attended other driving schools—says the Ferrari Driving Experience and the F430 coupe he drove initially humbled him. “But the beauty of the F430 is that, after a while, it disappears, and it’s just you and the track,” he says. “That’s the highest accolade that I can give a car—that it disappears.”

    The track also impressed Anderson, who describes it as being full of elevation changes and blind corners. But, he says, once you drive Le Circuit a few times, navigating it at fast speeds becomes second nature. “That’s what’s great about the course: It lets you go over the edge in a safe way to teach you the limits of the car,” says Anderson, the first media member and only non-Ferrari owner to participate in the North American Ferrari Driving Experience. “If I owned a Ferrari, I’d go to this course. You have to. It’s not even an option.”

    Photo by James Lipman
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