After 29 days at sea, we finally arrived in to Rio. Dry land couldn't have come sooner for GREAT Britain and the opportunity to sleep in a comfy bed, clean ourselves and all our clothes and eat some decent food was fully taken advantage of.
Leg 1 was tough, for a variety of reasons. You had the full 'Berty Bassetts' of weather arrangements throughout it all...allsorts! The strong winds off the coast of Portugal, the stillness of the Doldrums, the waves off the coast of South America, all supported by blistering sunshine or torrential rain squalls, made for an interesting and at times frustrating sail.
What did we learn from it? What we learnt was a lot about ourselves and how good and bad we can be together as a group. There were no major bust ups, which is credit to us as a crew, but there were a lot of things that we could've done better. Seventh is not where we aim to be finishing and our mistakes or lapses in concentration at crucial times cost us dearly in the race. That's not saying that we were totally responsible as lady luck wasn't always on our side, but if we can minimise our mistakes, we will be a lot more competitive in the future.
Was it fun? If i'm honest the answer is Yes and No. There is nothing fun about living at 45 degrees, sharing the same toilet as 23 others, eating relatively poor food, sweating continuously without being able to wash or cool down and living in a confined space, on top of each other 24/7. That's the bad part, but for some reason, when you cross over that finish line and realise what you have achieved and how far you have come, it all pales off in to an insignificance.
Call it a sadistic pleasure, but it is a pleasure nonetheless. It is derived from the fact that you have managed to come through some of the greatest challenges that Mother Nature has in store for you and you have done it with a group of people that at the start you hardly knew anything about. Impossible is nothing as they say and what Leg 1 taught us all is that mental resolve, sheer guts and determination will help you get through any challenge, no matter how great.
Get through it we did and Rio was the reward for such endeavour from the group. Six days in one of the worlds most colourful and charismatic cities.
Rio has such an exciting future ahead of itself in the next 3 years and it was a pleasure to be in amongst it as the excitement builds. A football world cup, a 450th anniversary and an Olympic Games, are examples of some of the fun that is heading that cities way.
It's strange, but when we docked in to port we were warned of high crime rates, muggings, streets wrought with danger and a community a little out of control. The reality was the total contrast. The public were animated, the streets were safe, the suburbs full of character and charisma, the food was outstanding and the scenery to die for. Rio is a city going places and you get a real sense of that once you get under its skin.
However, as one chapter draws to a close and we bid farewell to a few friends and family, another one begins. Cape Town is our next stop and the Southern Atlantic our next challenge to conquer. Amongst the GREAT Britain family, we bid farewell to Kristie Reid , Claire Wilkinson, Mark Heywood, Dominique Young and Marcus Batty, all of whom we shall reunite with later on in the race, and we extend a warm welcome to Dave Mowat, Will Markuske and Bavesh Patel as we set off on our merry way.
The first 24 hours have been interesting and extremely challenging. The weather has been particularly inclement and I think that the crew has had a bit of a baptism of fire. Waves have been aggressive and the wind angry and gusting. We have taken a battering already, with several of the crew coming down injured or ill, but we are still fighting! It has already become apparent that this is going to be one very different race compared to that of before. This is going to be a continual battle with Mother Nature, with little to no rest bite. She has already flexed her muscle and broken parts of the boat and the crew. Conditions are fierce, but as we currently stand, flying along in first place, we as a crew, intend on tackling this one head on.
Will keep you posted on our progress!