English rowing champion and double Olympic Gold medallist James Cracknell takes shore leave and tells us about his favourite venues and events

  • BEST Bash
    A party that particularly sticks in my mind was in Sydney, at the end of the second week of the Olympics. We’d finished racing and got our gold medals, which gave us free entry into a gladiator-themed party (for charity) at the Australian Museum. We went into Kings Cross in Sydney, which is a big gay area, to buy our tunic and helmet outfits. It was a great night, all very camp, and we carried on partying until sunrise.
  • gf045.jpgBEST Buzz
    I went to Glastonbury last year and loved it. Considering the amount of mud and numbers of people, I was really impressed with how well it was organised. We stayed in a tent and went prepared for the weather!
  • BEST Bed
    My wife and I travelled across the States, from East to West Coast, for our honeymoon. We’d done two weeks in a camper van so badly needed a comfy bed for the night (and more importantly, somewhere we were allowed to park the van!) I don’t remember the name of the hotel but we ended up at beautiful Lake Placid for a night of luxury.
  • BEST Bites
    When I’m rowing, I have to eat all the time, so the thought of spending several hours in a restaurant doesn’t hold much interest for me. Having said that, my mate knows the chef at Nobu Berkeley and I had a really amazing meal there recently. I trusted him to know what to order, and loved everything, particularly the black cod. I also like Italian: my wife cooks a really nice salmon pasta dish.
  • BEST Drink
    Red Stripe is my favourite beer. I’m not really into wine but I like a good G&T, or Vodka Red Bull to keep me awake if it’s getting late.
  • BEST Band
    Red Hot Chilli Peppers are a band I still really like and who’ve stood the test of time, but they wouldn’t really get me on the dance floor. What would is dance music from the early 90s – I like those remixes that DJs are doing now, with samples from songs you used to love but don’t hear anymore.
  • BEST Bag
    I think my top goodie bag came from the Mont Blanc centenary party: they gave us a bag containing one of their pens and a passport holder. One freebie I seem to be inundated with at the moment is USB flash sticks – I’ve got far too many of them!
  • BEST Game
    Perhaps surprisingly, I don’t go to that many sporting events but I do like football: I’m off to see Chelsea play Fenerbahce soon. I’m a keen follower of Superbike racing and looking forward to watching James Toseland race at Donington Park this year.
  • BEST of the Best
    If I was in charge of organising the ultimate party, with no expense spared, it would have to be an outdoorsy type of event for sure. I’d probably fly all my friends out to Australia or New Zealand and have a big beach barbeque, with all-night dancing and huge waves crashing on the shore.

james.jpgJames Cracknell won his first Olympic Gold in the legendary coxless fours in Sydney 2000, together with Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent and Tim Foster. He repeated his incredible performance in Athens four years later, clinching a second Olympic Gold. Announcing his retirement from rowing in January 2006, Cracknell has since made frequent TV and radio appearances while continuing to set himself new sporting challenges. His most recent success was completing the Cross-Continent Challenge, which saw him rowing, cycling and swimming from the UK to North Africa in an astonishing 10 days.

James Cracknell is available to book as an event speaker. For more information on him and/or other celebrities, contact Speakers Corner, tel: 020 8866 8967, squaremeal.co.uk/speakers

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Spring 2008.