The fleet was resplendent flying flags and banners as it circled the bay outside the Marina da Gloria, the home of the Clipper Race for the last week in Rio.
Following the parade the serious stuff started as the boats jockeyed for position at the start. 1400hrs and the 'gun' went starting the yachts on their journey to Cape Town. In the bay the breeze was gentle. Out under Sugarloaf Mountain, around a mark off the Copacabana, across to another buoy off Ipanema Beach, all under the watchful gaze of Christ the Redeemer.
However, turning left for Cape Town at Ipanema, the tourist book stuff finished as the wind quickly built as did the sea state. A reef was put in the main, the Yankee 3 brought on deck and then the scourge of seasickness quickly followed.
The conditions rapidly worsened making it necessary for the Yankee 1 to be replaced with the Yankee 3. Unfortunately these sails are attached to the forestay at the sharp end. The sharp end is the end that gets the wettest and the bounciest. As conditions worsened so the visits to the foredeck got wetter and took longer. Twice life jackets inflated due to the volume of water being thrown over the crew surprising both new legger Andy Ryan and seasoned Round the Worlder Kris Slezak, but they had to soldier on as the availability of able bodies was diminishing as sea sickness took its grip.
The up side for me is that I have never, touch wood, suffered from seasickness. The downside in times like this is that the hard physical work on the foredeck falls to the few. More than once on the last 2 nights I have been left physically exhausted by holding onto flailing sails that we are attempting to keep attached to the boat, as I left the deck by about four foot into the air whilst simultaneously being hosed by the Atlantic Ocean! There is the frequent cathartic release of invective aimed at everyone and everything, as in Space, on the foredeck in 30 knots of wind and with Olympic swimming pool volumes of water coming over you, no one can hear you scream! Fortunately!
Crawling back to midships, you just lay there, getting your breath and energy back, dreading the next 'request' from the Skipper for someone to do something up front in the netherworld of the foredeck. You know, through no fault of their own, that a number of your crew mates are incapacitated so it will again fall to the few.
Fortunately, as I write, the effects of the seasickness are finally starting to subside and people are starting to feel more human. They have all my sympathy as it has been horrible to see normal, smiley, happy people become silent (apart from the retching!), glassy eyed, vomiting shells.