Race 13 - Day 3
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Crew Diary - Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool
Finally we have seen that mythical beast, the British heatwave. After nearly a fortnight in Derry, and 48 hours of racing, the leaden, drizzle filled skies have at last cleared, blue skies have appeared, and the occasional pair of sunglasses has been seen on deck.
It is still not what I would call hot, but for once my foulies are dry at the end of the watch. It has been a crazy race so far - almost a round the world journey in miniature. We started, after an incredible motor up Lough Foyle surrounded by a flotilla of boats, filled with families, tooting their horns and waving, past cheering crowds in many of the passing villages, with one of those typical Sanya starts. As a Yankee trimmer, I spend my time staring at the sails while we go in a strait line, and pulling furiously on ropes when we go though one of the multitude of tracks that typically comprise the ten minutes either side of the gun, I therefore am a bit hazy on the details. But, as happened in Cape Town and in Fremantle, I came up for air a few minutes into the race to find us right at the front, with some considerable distance between us and the bulk of the fleet.
The start was followed, almost immediately, by that other Clipper staple, the wind hole, and its accompanying “fleet compression”. Except this time it was worse than usual, as the stragglers quickly caught up, and, instead of politely waiting behind us, charged through to leave us languishing in, for a short time, in last place. To complete the Clipper in miniature analogy, we have also had a rash of spinnaker work and headsail changes - as always accompanied by a lot of sweating, and fair amount of shouting - coupled with a good dose crashing upwind, involving either getting soaked on deck or hanging on precariously, whilst trying to sleep in a fully cranked bunk.
We have seen dolphins, those stray cats of the sea, and gulls, gannets and kittiwakes aplenty. We were uplifted by one of those magnificent seaborne sunrises, where the sky was tinged with green, as well as a firestorm of reds and oranges - and caught by surprise as rain shrouded hills appeared suddenly out of the mist and drizzle, like the mountains of the Bismarck archipelago
The racing, like seemingly every clipper race, is incredibly close. We charge (or drift!) along with often only yards between us, and almost certainly there will be only minutes between us all at the finish outside Liverpool.
Its been a great aide memoire, as one looks back on the highs and lows, the scrapes, the scares and the laughter that have been so much of this extraordinary adventure around the world. We have forged a special bond between us all on Sanya, and, however the results fall in the end, we will miss each other and this incredibly uncomfortable boat no end.
But reminiscing is for next week. For now we have sails to trim and a race to win!