Race 9 - Day 5
Crew Diary - A Harder Edge
14 March

John Dillon
John Dillon
Team Unicef
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Another loop for Race 9 which starts and finishes in Subic Bay. It’s a lovely place but we’re beginning to wonder whether we’ll ever get away from it, particularly with Donald’s announcement on travel restrictions to the USA. Still, there’s no point in expending energy on things you have no control over when we can use it on things we do. Which brings me onto the racing. We’re at the sharp end with less than 100nm to go and fighting it out with Punta, Sanya and the ubiquitous Qingdao for the minor podium places. The top step looks like it belongs to Ha Long Bay; well done on a great race. A brief word on Qingdao; you can never write them off. It would have been easy to do so when they were forced to turn back after missing a mark which cost them, conservatively 12nm. A huge distance in a short race. Now they’re back in the mix and from a distance, the question is how? They’re obviously a slick boat and cope well with setbacks, as seen in this race. More than that, they have a winning mentality and are constantly looking to seize the initiative and take calculated risks with tactics and sail plans, putting the rest of the fleet on the back foot. It’s great to see and forces everyone else to raise their standards.

As a returning legger, off in Perth for a few months and back on in Subic bay, the boat is noticeably slicker, more professional and tightly focused with a harder edge. Racing takes priority and surprisingly, everyone seems to like it and it’s still fun. When something needs doing the RTWer’s are onto it and everyone is clear about their role. I feel like a new inmate in a high security prison full of bad asses, albeit skinny ones. I need to curry favour with the dominant RTW gang or I’ll never be able to pick up the soap in the shower. Fortunately, they’re an accommodating bunch although I did receive an early warning shot about lost Spinnaker sheets! Guard!!!

In a few hours we’ll be moored up and savouring a cold one. No one on board has any idea what happens next with the limited information we receive suggesting that the world is starting to resemble a Hollywood extinction movie with travel restrictions and lockdowns, affecting increasing parts of the world. Perhaps the Clipper Race fleet will end up as humanity’s last hope...