A delayed start to the race as we bobbed around waiting for Derry to get their battery charger fixed. We have a new gusto as we trim, trim, trim to keep up with the leaders in the fleet. A few tactics took us away from the main fleet and lost time but we work hard to try and make up the ground and hold 7th place. Then the call came that the race was to be abandoned as some crucial work on the forestays needed to be completed. The fleet were diverted to Hong Kong after only 5 days racing. Very disappointing that the race was called and we now had a 5 day motor/sail up to Hong Kong but….
It did mean we had some time to chill-out on deck. It was nice to get on land sooner than expected and enjoy some of those luxuries I thought I wouldn’t see for 20+ days. The stopover enabled me to surprise family and friends with a phone call and update on Facebook. There were a few reminders that although we are in the ‘Clipper bubble’, life continues back home. My thoughts are with those that have lost family and friends whilst we have been on our journey. A reminder that you need to enjoy the time you spend with those who are important to you.
The race to Qingdao is based on elapsed time so as soon as the repairs were completed we set out in the company of Old Pulteney, Switzerland, Henry Lloyd and Qingdao. It feels good to be racing in company and provides a great gauge of whether we are matching their speed. The conditions are getting tougher the further North we go. We are close hauled (with the wind directly on the front of the boat) and big waves knocking the boat in all directions. Helming is tough but after cutting my teeth in the Southern Ocean, its not long until I get into the rhythm of the waves and get a consistent 11 knots out of the boat. The energy of the boat is still high, a real tribute to the leadership style of Jan. We work hard changing our sail plan to the expected conditions (getting down to a storm jib when it starts to blow up) and then roll into our sleep bags, physically shattered but feeling good that we are doing everything we can to ‘make the boat go faster’. Apart from crossing the paths of other Clipper boats as we zig zag our way up the China Sea, the only other navigational hazard are the large fishing fleets which we have to dodge. At least we get some warning as they provide a disco in the middle of the sea, with flashing lights and music on Channel 16 (the distress channel!). After 10 days, we arrive on the outskirts of Qingdao and wait till the day breaks to enter. We finished in 8th position.
Oh and an excellent article by Clipper to celebrate International Womens’ Day International Womens Day Celebrations on Clipper