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Race 1 - Day 1

Invest Africa - Natalia Shoutova

01 SEP 2013 - Race 1

We have finally started our 11-months long journey around the world. After months of training and preparations it feels fantastic to be on the way. Yet this is combined with sadness of leaving loved ones behind on the docks and the anxious anticipation of challenges to come.

Our send off from St Katharine Docks was incredible and very moving – the cheering crowds filling every inch of space in the marina, being sandwiched in the lock with three other boats eagerly awaiting release into the Thames, spectator boats bursting with sea of coloured supporter t-shirts, banners and waving hands. We were delighted to spot so many green Team Rich t-shirts and hear shouts of “Go Invest Africa” from every direction! Being the fifth boat in the formation, we were ideally placed to see the first four boats glide under the opening Tower Bridge.

We thank you all for sharing this special day with us! We would also like to send out a particular thank you to Dame Ellen MacArthur. She shared her own experience of sailing around the world with members of the Sapinda Rainbow Project crew.  They spoke about sailing conditions, fears, excitement and questions were raised as to how she managed to sail a 74-foot solo! Seeing that on our 70-foot yacht the 21 of us need to shout across the boat to get jobs done, Nomcebo, our Leg 1 Sapinda crew, found it particularly amusing when she said she shouted at herself to counteract the lack of other crew telling her what to do and to motivate herself. Communication is truly key!!

It was a real honour to have this 
incredible woman aboard our boat before we slipped our lines for our own circumnavigation. Her inspiration will be reminded to us through Ozzy - our latest crew member, who is already best buds with Mikey the Meerkat and Derek the Koala, a bright orange puppet given to us by the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.

As we made our way down the River, passing the Dome, the Thames Barrier, QE2 Bridge and other iconic landmarks on the way, spectator boats waved their final goodbyes and normal routine resumed on Invest Africa – our Mothers made delicious mushroom and chorizo risotto for dinner, a couple of crew whipped a brand new line in the cockpit, Craig, our Bosun, put the angle grinder to work on stanchion fittings and we fell into the watch system. We have moored on a commercial buoy and we are now very cosy between Henri Lloyd and Mission Performance by our side, the others tied on close by. After such an emotional day and the anticipation for tomorrow, all the decks are quiet which strangely resembles the calm before the storm since as of tomorrow the decks will most definitely be buzzing with crews and shouts, and very unlikely be as quiet before coming back to London next year.

With 40,000 miles stretching ahead of us, the adventure has only begun and we cannot wait for the Race Start tomorrow!