Race 9 - Day 4
Crew Diary - Race 9, Day 4
13 March

Mary Vaughan-jones
Mary Vaughan-jones
Team Punta del Este
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I’m sat in the nav station listening to the unlikely comedy duo of Tono and Jesus keeping the other watch in fits of laughter on deck. There’s a slight sadness in the moments of silliness we have on Punta Del Este at the moment. The effects of COVID-19 are becoming more evident, even in the Clipper Race bubble; unfortunately some of my fellow crew mates are currently on their last race, duties at home calling them away from the North Pacific, their jobs or family needing them. We very much live in a Clipper Race bubble, and as a RTWer this is especially evident for me- family asking what I plan to do after the race is nonchalantly cast off as real world Mary’s problem. However the announcement of the now global pandemic makes you realise how much is happening outside of our bubble, and I truly hope that everybody at home is okay and maybe I’ll stop complaining about how many Subic to Subic Bay races we have done.

It’s been an eventful day. It was a beautiful sunrise, clinging to the horizon in much the same way crew clings to the last few minutes in their bunk before a night watch. We were flanked by Visit Sanya, China and Unicef having lost our lead towards the end of the second sprint. Suspicions of Qingdao being the light on the horizon were confirmed when their AIS suddenly popped up just under 6nm behind. Kudos for them for making up the ground but their act as a wounded dog due the very slight delay in Seamus (kindly) alerting them they’ve missed a mark has undoubtedly made us determined to beat them to the podium. With plenty of competition around the whole crew has been on it. Susan has been creating all manner of spreadsheets tracking the speeds/bearings of the boats around us, calling up updates from the computer every 10 minutes or so (Andres you’d be so proud, even using a computer and not the old fashioned pen and paper). We’ve had people trimming constantly - I think at one point last night we may have had five torches pointing at the main calling trim. And for those who may not be completely confident in trimming or helming yet they have been grinding and easing enthusiastically or delving in to the seemingly endless supply of snacks that Dorthe has organised for us. Snacks being incredibly important for morale, and of course, the more snacks you eat, the better ballast you become.

So the day goes on, switching watches and keenly filling each other in on race positions. We gain and take Visit Sanya, China we gain and take Unicef, Qingdao we’re leaving behind. Time for a Kite hoist, we’ve got this, we’ve done many before, we’ve had it ready for hours waiting for the ideal time. With these boats in close quarters I prepped the crew, let’s put on a show and demonstrate how Punta Del Este like to kite hoists. Big words but I was confident we’d nail it.

Well we definitely put on a show.

Unfortunately that show was our Code 2 flying in a manner not too dissimilar to the arrogant wave of a cocky child at sports day before they promptly fall flat on their face. I don’t think my grandmother would have been proud of the expletives that launched from my mouth as I saw the tack blow itself mid hoist. We’d failed to check it and in typical spinnaker fashion it decided if we hadn’t checked it, it would go wrong.

However, I’m sure much to the amazement of the near by crowd that had gathered on Unicef, we had the Kite down and re-hoisted probably within 30 minutes. It was a royal mess up but we know how to drop and re-hoist a Kite pretty damn well on this boat, practice makes perfect! The dolphins mid re-hoist were surely a good sign and we recovered well. Unicef, Visit Sanya, China and Qingdao are still behind us and we’re shooting towards the end of the sprint gate with nice speed.

Bit of a difference from the majority of this race where I’ve been wearing my holiday hat, trimming Spinnakers sat in a rubber ring, eating freshly sliced pineapple!

I’m very proud of this boat, despite my brief vacation onto Zhuhai for the last race, and I will miss our leaving crew mates massively. We also have some crew resting for this race and the boat is incredibly quiet without Andres’s reggaeton, a distinct lack of pizza without my fellow two idiots Helen and Steph, and of course we are also missing Clara and Antonio. Looking forward to having you back on board!

Mum, here’s your blog. I hope you’re happy I think this might be the longest one ever. Hi family and friends, speak to you when I’m back in Subic. By the way I dropped my phone in the marina, so I now have an excuse for ignoring any messages sent to me. Much love!