Race 1 - Day 7
Crew Diary - Race 1, Day 7
08 September

Richard Burchell
Richard Burchell
Team Imagine your Korea
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Good afternoon from all the crew on Imagine your Korea

We apologise for the lack of information we have sent to you our supporters due to a few technical issues that have now been rectified by the excellent Clipper Race Maintenance Team, who are doing a sterling job in looking after us.

What an adventure we have had since leaving Gosport and travelling to St. Katharine Docks on delivery and then spending a week in London, and then the parade down the Thames for Race Start. Then came what we had been training for, ‘The Race of Our Lives’, the journey down to Portimão, Portugal, which is where we are now.

The journey from Gosport started in quite an emotional way with a large number of people on the dockside to cheer and applaud us off one by one, we were saying goodbye to what was not only the home of the fleet of eleven yachts, but also the home of all the Clipper Race participants during their training to become ocean racers, and a member of an elite group of people who have been involved with Clipper Race since 1996.

The journey around the south coast of England and up the Thames went smoothly and we anchored up near the end of Southend Pier, and went into anchor watch mode. When we awoke the next day we motored up the Thames past many iconic sights that we have all heard about, truly amazing towards our home for a week St. Katharine Docks and there was a massive welcome and media bonanza waiting for us, I am sure you will have seen our dance to the team song as we went through the lock, not quite professional dancers but there is time yet.

The visual sight of all the yachts in the marina with our main sponsors banner flying on the forestay and the other sponsors flags flying from the inner forestay which was impressive and attracted a lot of attention. We were one of the two boats open to the public over the Bank Holiday weekend and around 350 people were greeted onto our boat to look around and generate interest, it was successful. I personally had over a dozen friends take time to come and see the boat that I will call home for the next twelve months. Some were excited for me, some were sure I was mad, but all thought it was great that I was stepping up and doing something I wanted to do, challenge myself.

A lot of work was carried out on the boat during the next week to get us ready for Race Start, we had an official naming ceremony with representatives from Korea and Sir Robin making a speech, prosecco was sprayed around as well. We were then treated to lunch by the sponsors.

So then the time was to leave, an emotional moment for all and many trembling bottom lips were seen. The boats were led out of the marina individually to their own team song, with more dancing and we joined the many spectator boats that were hired for our many loyal supporters to follow us down the Thames. It was a great privilege for us to have Tower Bridge raised twice, thank you to the Port of London Authority.

The trip down the Thames was made more enjoyable when we were able to hear our names being shouted out by the supporters and we waved back. Once at the Thames Barrier, the supporters turned back and the mood on the boat changed, we were on our own and to me, the race had started. We all started to reflect on the time we had together and a cup of tea was called for by the Skipper, Mike, a call that we had heard many times since but it always seems to lift the mood. The power of a cup of tea should never be underestimated when on board a racing yacht.

Having anchored off Southend and carried out anchor watch overnight we started to carry out the MOB both tethered and untethered a routine that all the Clipper Race family know only too well. Safety is an important part of the Clipper Race training.

Race Start was a nail biting moment with a lot of 70 ft yachts all jostling for position in a small space, with lots of calls for water and a windward boat and as soon as we crossed the start line, the Spinnakers were raised which was a fantastic sight for the supporters who had walked up the pier to meet us, thank you.

We had started our journey to become international ocean racers, to face challenges, to test ourselves and for some, to run away to sea to escape something, no matter what it was, we were here for each other.

The watch system that was to rule our lives had started for just over a week on our journey to Portimão.

It seemed to take forever to pass the Isle of Wight and Gosport, the place that will be on all Clipper Race Crew’s minds, and then onto the Channel Islands and around the corner of France, sailing hard all the time. Our training was beginning to kick in and being remembered, the muscles were aching again and we were being woken up again after we thought we had only just gone to bed. The training became very real again not only for us, but also for the Skipper and Mate as they were also both on a journey they had never experienced before, learning like we were, but they also have the added responsibility as well.

As we entered the notorious Bay of Biscay the images that we have all witnessed on TV came into our heads, however, although bad, it was not as we had imagined.

The watch system was settling in and as a group of strangers thrown together in a confined space eating, sleeping and working 24 hours a day, we were getting to know each other quickly, but the overriding memory I have is of politeness and courtesy that we have shown each other, the mantra of the boat is something that we have all embraced, if you need help ask, if you are asked for help, give it. This is something I have taken on and it works and it is something that I will take with me when I leave the boat next August and work in the Theatre. I would urge you all to do the same thing.

Sailing down the coast of Spain and then Portugal the boat is sailing well, we are getting wet, sometimes cold, sometimes hot, sometimes over dressed and sometimes under, but at all times the boat is sailing well and the evolutions are getting slicker, until!!

We had the Spinnaker up and we were tacking and just as the Spinnaker was going round the wind changed and started to wrap, not just one wrap but two wraps in separate places up the inner forestay. It stayed this way, constantly flogging but there was nothing we could do until a few days later something happened and it started to loosen and we could unwind it and down it came to a huge cheer. We were sailing again.

As we headed towards Portimão the mood on board changed and everyone became more seriously focussed on racing conditions and the Skipper briefed us on our tactics as we were closing in on other boats and had a real chance to improve our ranking. As it turned out, the wind died for most of the fleet in the early hours of the morning and the race to Portimão was slowing down in the early hours of the morning. Instead of a race to the finish, nature created a crawl, but get over the line we did and cheers all round and back slapping and hugging were in order. We had finished the race, we had worked together as a team and completed Race 1 of Leg 1.

Our work on deck continued for around two hours whilst we motored around the bay preparing the boat with sails down, banner and sponsor flags up and a tidy boat.

We were called in by Race Control as the sun rose to cheers from the crews that had arrived earlier and stayed up for us, and Sir Robin and the Clipper Race Media Crew took photos and our Skipper was interviewed.

Then we were shown to the bar for drinks - both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and chorizo rolls at 0700 hours. There were lots of people on their phones scattered around in personal places speaking to loved ones about their experiences and to say they were safe. It was great to see. Everyone was in a great mood and each time another yacht arrived into port the celebrations stopped and we went down to greet and applaud the yachts, no matter what place they arrived in. The Clipper 2019-20 Race family was growing and developing and I was proud of it.

It is difficult to believe we had only been at sea for only one week, it seemed like a lifetime. The next race is four weeks long to South America, and no doubt Mother Nature will throw challenges at us, as will Neptune as we cross the Equator.

Life on board is fun and exciting and we are a growing family, that has only been together for one week and will develop with additions over the next eleven months. Thank you for your patience in reading this summary. Now we are up and running you, our supporters will get more regular updates about life on board Imagine your Korea. You are all very important to us.