RIP Gromit – Hong Kong’s magic sailing dog

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At 110 years old (doggy years), Gromit sailed away for the last time on 20th October. Known as the sailing dog of Hong Kong, for 15 years Gromit was part of the A crew on Steve Bourne’s Magic 25 Merlin. Figurehead of Team Gromit SBR, she never missed a race, only putting her paws up from competitive sailing last year. She will be sadly missed by all that knew her.

Asia at Sea caught up with Jade Bourne, one of Gromit’s loving “sisters”!

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AAS: Tell us about Gromit’s background – from where did she come and at what age did she join the Bourne family?

Jade: Gromit became a Bourne in about 2000. Steve (Jade’s Dad) put out the feelers with the SPCA and other rescue organizations with a request for the dog-type the family was looking for. A while later, we got a call saying there was a very special dog probably about 1 year old that fitted the profile and looking for a good home from Lamma Island.

From memory, there was a bit of a catch to this as the previous owner was leaving town extremely soon after she (tearfully I would add) was giving up Gromit. Luckily, the Bourne kids fell in love at first sight with the German-Shepard-looking curious pup. I remember she had one of her ears still folded as she bolted under our coffee table and around the living room.

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Happy sisters – Jade’s younger sister Kimberly with Gromit

AAS: Who chose the name Gromit and why?
Jade: She came with the name and was also known as Grommo.

AAS: What breed of dog was she?
Jade: We reckon she’s definitely part German Shepherd but the other part is a mystery. The family theory is a Pomeranian father – who must have had a sly, cunning and quite ambitious character to take on a German Shepherd (it would be too cruel the other way around!).

AAS: Gromit always looked remarkably comfortable on your Magic – was she always as brave or did she become more confident in time?

Jade: Steve was determined to make Gromit a sailing dog – being a sailing family, Gromit (and us kids for that matter) didn’t particularly have a choice. Once the family had gained her trust, Steve took Gromit sailing ~ perhaps around 18 months old, probably less!

I’m pretty sure Gromit had her first sailing trip competing on the Magic25. She took to the boat really well on her first try.
She, like her owners, is very happy to be on top of the water in any type of boat. As she grew up, she had a habit of jumping onto anything moored on the dock so we had t0 call her off/drag her away frequently from other people’s boats.

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Having taken such a liking to sailing, you may be interested to know Gromit had a huge aversion to water. Bath time, swimming in the ocean, falling off the boat were big “no-no”s in Grommo world. This aversion to water may well have been the key to us being able to keep her on the boat. Just once she fell in – when a crew member mistakenly elbowed her into the sea, just that one time Gromit walked on water!

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Kimberly, Steve and Gromit

Gromit learned common sailing instructions such as “tack”, “gybe” and “drop” very quickly but doesn’t know common dog instructions like “hand”, “roll over”, “lie down”. However any attempt to teach a doggy term was met with Gromit’s special icy haughty ‘do you think I’m stupid?’ stare down, even when you were holding her favourite treat, tuna fish.

Gromit learned common sailing instructions such as “tack”, “gybe” and “drop” very quickly

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AAS: What are your most memorable experiences with Gromit on the water?

Jade: One of my favourite memories, and there are so many to choose from, is when Gromit climbed up on to my chest while i was out on the trapeze wire. We reckon she didn’t want to miss out on the fun. Gromit saw me swing out, and after a bit of thought, she jumped up on the side and started to walk up my legs. Luckily I keep my legs close together on the trapeze or poor old Grommo would have walked straight off the boat.

One of my favourite memories…is when Gromit climbed up on to my chest while I was out of the trapeze wire

I managed to squeeze her around the harness part and she sat straight up with her face to the wind, oblivious to how she was going to get back on the boat, or the poor human below with a face full of dog hair. Maybe Gromit watched one too many reruns of  “Titanic”.

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Rest in peace Gromit

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