On Thursday afternoon I witnessed about 30 CIOs from various companies being forced to do manual labour while getting shouted at and sprayed with sea water. I'd be surprised if any went home without at least a few bruises -- I know I have a few injuries from the day.
So why did the CIOs happily put up with this kind of abuse on a sunny Thursday afternoon?
The answer is that they were taking part in a yacht race on Sydney Harbour hosted by Emerson Network Power, a company that develops power and climate control systems for some of the biggest datacentres on the planet.
Emerson had arranged for two 64-foot yachts, which were built to take part in previous round the world races, to be manned by an experienced skipper but crewed by some of their favourite customers and partners.
It was an amusing sight seeing all these bigwigs being ordered to perform tasks such as dragging in sails, manning the grinders and tacking across the crowded deck -- acting as ballasts as the yacht zig zagged its way through the water at extraordinary angles.
Even more amusing was the scene once we got back onto dry land.
As the group was served a well-deserved cold beer, virtually everyone was glued to their BlackBerrys to make sure they hadn't missed that vital e-mail during the boating experience.
The envy of the group ended up being one executive who at first seemed to be sending text messages. However, on closer inspection he was using one of the latest products from RIM, the BlackBerry Pearl (pic).
The Pearl looks no bigger than a regular mobile phone but allows you to do pretty much anything you can on a regular BlackBerry.
As the other CIOs ohh and ahhed with admiration, the Pearl-using exec explained that the device was so new he still hadn't figured out how to switch it onto predictive text mode. However, he didn't seem in any hurry to swap it back for an old version.
I would love to know how many of the envious CIOs immediately used their older BlackBerrys to inform their purchasing managers that their current device had been affected by the salt water and would need replacing in the very near future.