We have crossed the equator and Punta del Este is almost in sight. At least it feels that way. Everyone is looking forward to the first cold beer, and the second…
But we are still racing. We are last in the fleet, however, not willing to give up. Unfortunately, the adventure for me ends in Punta del Este (at least for now, watch out!) I am struggling to balance the excitement of arriving into Punta del Este with the sadness of getting off the boat. But getting off in Punta del Este means one thing: this is it, this leg is everything I can focus on.
While I am writing this, a fellow crew member has just asked me how I feel about the next week and our position in the race. Without a doubt I want to push on, I want to enjoy every second on the water and I want to have fun. I don’t get another chance, another leg. And I want everybody else to focus on the here and now (besides the occasional thought about a steak or a shower). We have come so far and already achieved so much and we should not let that slip. By the way, did I mention that we are sailing off the coast of Brazil. Isn’t that a pretty cool achievement having started in London? Everybody has pulled their weight and from sailing the boat with constant improvement on helming and trimming to fixing the sails, the mast track and everything else, and last but not least the cooking, has kept us busy. Every single one has made their contribution to what so far, has been an amazing trip for me. Thank you, everyone!
Thank you David for being my person to talk to whenever I feel down. He always finds the time (and a cup of tea) to listen and cheer me up. David is helping out at every corner of the boat. He is an experienced sailor and from leading evolutions to dragging sails around and washing dirty cups, there is nothing he doesn’t do. I can’t help myself but smile (even when I have to get up at 2am for watch handover) when Jo crosses my way. There is no way to describe her positive attitude towards life and don’t get me started on her hilarious inappropriate comments. There is no work too hard to stop her from just getting right into it. Nick H. is my Jibmonkey (this is a free translation of a German term for the person running around the foredeck) and it’s meant in the best possible way. He is quick on his feet and I can always rely on him helping out without questioning and a cheerful ‘don’t worry darling’. I really hope he’ll be joining me one day on a trip with my own boat. Josef is not only a machine on the coffee grinder, but he is also entertaining everyone with his Austrian humour. Besides his improvised Austrian chocolate cake (a digestive with Nutella) he got the most creative by naming me the lead cow and suggesting I should wear a bell as (supposedly) only the lead cows in Austria do. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love cheese and it is Andrea who saved me by bringing Italian parmesan on board. He is our ‘autohelm’, always steering in the straightest line possible. I don’t think I have ever seen Jonny without a smile on his face. He is our Victualler and carries the heaviest burden, feeding the crew. He has done an amazing job and I personally want to thank him for the supply of Piri Piri Sauce without which I would not have made it this far. His sailing skills cover everything, making him the perfect all-rounder. It is James who is constantly teaching me everything there is to know about the world (and a couple of things that one probably doesn’t need to know), the stars and his field of expertise, sail repair. He has been working constantly whenever there was something with the sails, spending his off watches with the sewing machine in the Galley. Nick W. is feared and admired when he gets his favourite toy out, the angle grinder. He can fix everything and always does it with enthusiasm and a smile. Gill, thank you for making not only the equator crossing ceremony special, but taking care of all the organisational work as our team coordinator. When she is not busy with administrative work, Gill is, being an experienced sailor, always a helpful hand on deck. Dorine is the most reliable person on board. She does every job so well that people struggle living up to her standard. When I ask her to help there is no doubt that she will be on it with 100 percent. She has quickly become a very good kite trimmer and seeing her smile when she is at the helm always makes me smile. ‘Just marvellous’, those are Rob’s favourite words and there is no better way to describe his skills in fixing things, especially our broken mast track. I can’t wait to share the first beer onshore with him. Thierry is our ‘Swissboy’, who is never seen without a piece of paper in his hands while collecting or analysing data. I’m constantly learning more about sail trim, polars etc. from him. Francesca is always aware of what’s happening around her and there with a helping hand. I appreciate all the questions she asks to learn more, constantly challenging me and my explanations. With Brian, I have shared the equator crossing and the zeros when we crossed Greenwich. From my perspective, he knows everything about the engine and the batteries. It is not a complete coincidence that his glasses turned up on the batteries after he lost them a week earlier. Richard H. knows the boats better than all of us as he has participated in the last race as well. I am glad to share this experience with him and would like to thank him for every good supportive conversation we had (and for all the laughs in between). He is one of our best helmsmen, always happy and always there with good advice on how to do things even better. Richard B. is the person behind most of our blogs and media content. I always hear his ‘oh crikey’ in my head and he is always a safe pair of hands on deck. Simon is one of our very good helmsmen and has probably the most interesting stories about his work as a pathologist. The only one on board who I spend almost no time with is Mike. He is the other watch leader and we hardly see each other. He is the best bunk buddy I could wish for, leaving me sweets and being very considerate. I wish I had spent some time sailing with him because I’m sure that I could have learnt so much from him.
Last but not least I want to thank Mike, Sam and Dani, our Clipper Race on board Media. Dani is our media person and I liked her from the moment we first met. On board we have our bonding moments of her braiding my hair. Thank you for helping me look decent! When she is not busy working and taking incredibly good pictures or videos, she is helping out on everything from ropes lying around to working the winches.
Sam, thank you for keeping this boat afloat and running. Without your hard work, we would have probably ended up out of power, water, flooded or without a mast track. Your riddles and games have kept us busy and entertained. I think it’s safe to say that everybody is thankful to have you on board. The only thing you have to work on is your sleeping habits. But who am I to judge.
Mike, thank you for your trust in me. I was a bit cautious at the beginning of being a watch leader and the responsibility that comes with it. You helped me understand what the job entails and you made it possible that I have learned more on this trip that I could have hoped for. Thank you for including me in decisions and explaining the reasons for everything. And thank you for keeping up with all my questions.
Thank you, everyone, for sharing this experience with me. Let’s make the most out of our last week!