This is what ocean racing is all about. After slipping back to third place, we've been a mission to catch Mission Performance and grab at least two points through the Scoring Gate. For over the past 24 hours, we've pushed hard and watched a small light grow in distance above the horizon.
2 miles, 0.6 miles, 0.2 miles... We were gaining on them literally inch by inch as our navigator reported the miles between us that we were chipping away at each hour.
The sun came up late on our 4-8 watch, and the distant light we were chasing soon became a very clear Clipper Race boat, close enough you could almost read the branding on the spinnaker they were running. We were enjoying some eggs for breakfast when we got a radio call from Mission Performance's skipper, Matt.
"Well done to your crew, you guys have obviously been working hard," Matt congratulated Eric on our stellar game of catch-up. But we hadn't caught them yet. My watch went off deck, telling the oncoming watch to "Go get 'em!"
Four hours later, we came back on deck to find we indeed had caught up even further and now we were literally neck-and-neck. Eric knew Matt wouldn't let us pass him easily, so Eric tried to maintain a good parallel distance between us to attempt a windward passing.
Nope, Matt wasn't having any of that. He luffed up and cut off our passing attempt. Eric then gave us a little bit more distance between, acknowledging Matt would not allow us a windward passing. So Eric eventually led us past Mission Performance, downwind, but far enough out to still maintain a steady wind flow. It was good passing them to our port side, so we could give them a glimpse of the still-pretty side of our hull.
A few hours later, the other watch came on deck, one by one, immediately scoping out a full 360 degrees to see where Mission Performance was. It felt good to bring them over to the low side, peaking underneath the boom and saying, "there they are, off in the horizon... back there."
After almost 2,000 miles since we left Brest, to come within shouting distance of another Clipper Race yacht, and pass them and continue to build the distance between just over a few hours, we've been feeling pretty amazing.
Mission: Completed. And we're coming for you next, Derry~Londonderry~Doire.