Cardiff – where’s that?

With President Obama in Wales this week for the Nato conference, I wonder how it’s being reported back in the USA. Specifically, will the American press actually know where Cardiff and Wales are?

In 2001, I was a member of the crew of the 33ft Rigid Inflatable powerboat Spirit of Cardiff. We’d had the boat shipped over to the USA in order to attempt a record powerboat Transatlantic from New York to Lizard Point. Prior to the trip, we spent three weeks touring up and down the eastern seaboard of the US, promoting the boat, and the attempt which we would make on the global circumnavigation record the following year.

With Cardiff our home port, we’d also been charged by the Welsh Development Agency to gauge whether the Americans knew much about Wales and its capital city. Sadly, all too often, the response was “Wales – is that in England?” We duly reported back that Wales definitely had an awareness problem on the other side of the Atlantic. It was rather reinforced when First Minister Rhodri Morgan made an official visit six months later, and came back with the same message.

But even if the Americans weren’t sure where Cardiff was, the plus side for Alan Priddy, Jan Falkowski, Steve Lloyd and me was that we set a new official UIM world record for a powerboat Transatlantic, celebrated in grand style when we arrived back in Cardiff to be the first boat to pass through the newly opened Cardiff Bay Barrage. And 13 years on, our Transatlantic record has never been challenged!

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