Race 13 - Day 6
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Crew Diary - Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool
Its not over yet!
I signed up to the Clipper Race, enticed by those perfectly pitched recruitment posters in the rail and tube stations on my daily commute. 'The Race of My Life' was promised. Legs 6 and 8 were my challenges of choice; big oceans both, but very different personalities.
I already knew Atlantic a little; we met back in 2013 when I sailed with the annual ARC fleet from the Canaries to the Caribbean, leaving me hoping we could get to know each other better in the future. The Clipper Race meant an opportunity to meet her big brother, Mighty Pacific, as well as renew and develop links with herself. Billed as cold, wet and quite scary; MP delivered on all fronts, after trying to fool us for the first week or so with light winds and then distract us with lots (and lots) of Chinese fishing fleets. MP and I parted in Seattle with, on my part at least, respect, awe and a deeper knowledge of my own ability to endure in (very) challenging situations. I hope we stay in touch and I plan to visit again one day, but for now I thank MP for allowing us safe passage.
So, back with Atlantic, this time she showed me (and my Pink Panther companions) around her Northern territory, and what a great time we had. Much has already been reported about the lively NY send off; the special VIP trip she arranged to Canada for the Panther crew; followed by the varied and very enjoyable sail across to Derry.
All very lovely, but what, I thought to myself, about the Race I signed up for? Leaving Derry, Atlantic's very hospitable and lively venue for the fleet after the crossing, she handed us over to her smaller siblings, Celtic and Irish, for our last few days. Anticipating a fun, but 'end of term' few days to round off our trip, I find myself instead in the middle of a really serious full on race to the line! After being cut up on the start line by Uncle Bob, the Pink Panther's initial leap was somewhat curtailed; but with true big cat agility, we recovered our balance, hoisted white sails and took the lead whilst enjoying Celtic's gutsy winds.
We said goodbye to Celtic after a lively couple of days, still in front, and waved to Fastnet and Scilly as we sailed on to meet Irish. Irish, who I hadn't met before, has a moody reputation; but he met us in a sunny southern temper, meaning we could don our sunglasses and get the kite out. However, there was a sting in the tale, as Qingdao and Garmin saw this as the opportunity to challenge our lead, and after an exhilarating dual all yesterday, where we eyeballed each other all afternoon, Qingdao finally squeezed ahead. As I write this, we are fighting for every fraction of a nautical mile, to catch Qingdao and stay ahead of Garmin. So, at last I have my Race, and what a Race!! The crew are pulling together, evolutions are slick, our top helms are tag-teaming round the clock and our Skipper and tactician are driving us on. Come on Panther, Liverpool awaits and the podium is in sight!!
Thanks to all my pinktastic crew mates, watch leaders James and Nano and Skipper Lance for the Race of My Life'! …. and its not over yet!
Love to Pete, Jake Ben and all the friends and family waiting to celebrate in Liverpool xx