Unlucky or poor tactics?
Back to the longer period of racing, with this race proving to be longer than the Brest to Rio leg. The original estimate that the race was to take 24 ñ 28 days was hampered by light winds in the earlier days plus a guestimate of how long it would take to do this new route past Papa New Guinea, the Philippines and Malaysia being more optimistic than reality. All this resulting in a major rescheduling for future races and stopovers, an unscheduled 12 hour fuel stop in Borneo and the cancellation of the second part of the race as we motor over 1,500 miles to get to Singapore. I had my first chance to navigate since delivering the boat to London, although the role was restricted to safety and ensuring change of courses made (not the consultation on tactics).
This race has stretched us mentally rather than physically as we try to keep moving through the wind holes. Tempers fray as we get deprived of sleep due to hot, sweaty environment below decks, even with fans fitted ñ Thanks Scotty and Jim!) I’m sure we will all come out of this more aware of our tolerance limitations and learning when you need to count to 10 more often. Distraction from lying in our bunks sweating has been swapping books between the crew. My contribution was Nigel Brennan’s book about his 15 month captivity in Somalia. Nigel completed half the circumnavigation on PSP. Having shared a few beers with him, you wouldn’t have a clue the journey he has been on. As Nigel alluded to when handing over the book, it makes you see the importance of family.
Back to the racing, the start was different from the other races as we started quite a way off-shore with a Le Monde start (a rolling start with the quickest team to get their head sails up). It seemed we were slightly unprepared for the lighter winds and needed to change our head sail fairly soon after the start to stay in touch with the fleet. We soon drifted to near the back of the fleet. The next few weeks we battled to keep the boat moving through the lighter winds. The second equator crossing was a lot more challenging than the race down to Rio, with some unexpected big winds and seeing us all try and remaster life at 45 degrees. Most of the new leggers were welcomed as Shellbacks a couple of days later when conditions calmed. Celebrations involved a can of cool coke. The leggers have provided mass amounts of energy to this race and some entertainment, Jen’s boogying, Elliot’s tales of student life and Lindsay’s extreme grinding.
The excitement built as we followed Qingdao north to try and pick up some wind whilst the rest of the fleet floundered in the South seeing our highest sched position of 4th. Unfortunately we didnt move South quick enough to take advantage of the new weather system than started to fill in and power the rest of the fleet across the finish line. We finally finished in 11th place. On completion of the race, we motored to refuel and then on to Singapore watching out for pirates on the way. The scenery has been stunning with volcanos and small islands ñ Scotty likening it to a TinTin adventure. Guess who is Captain Haddock?! The highlight was a brief encounter with some local fishermen who supplied us with 3 blue fin tuna in exchange for 10AUD Dollars, a mars bar and a Team Garmin T-shirt.