Winds of Change
The results are in. Everyone following at home knows what happened by now; defeat clutched from the jaws of victory. The sailing equivalent of Devon Loch falling on the final straight of The Grand National. Writing about personal pain is cathartic I hear, so please consider the following letter shaped tears as part of my healing process.
As I type this, 20 knots of irony are whistling through the restaurant terrace. It’s a perfect day for sailing you see, unlike Saturday 8 September, a date that is definitely off my Christmas card list for this year. Saturday 8 September provided ideal conditions for serenely paddle boarding along the Algarve or setting skimming stone personal bests. The Toupee Wearers Society proclaimed it as their most dignified day out in years. But the bewigged man’s paradise is the sailor’s hell, and so it proved to be.
Earlier that morning we’d talked about where we might head for lunch. Little did we know we’d be preparing breakfast on the boat the following morning. All was going well and we were hopeful of reeling Qingdao in along the final stretch in a match for a race to the finish. The watch system had been abandoned and the entire crew was on the high side of the boat doing their bit in the hunt for victory. Everyone was in a joyous mood, then we rounded Sagres Point and our spirits, like the wind, evaporated.
In fairness, we did stay upbeat for a while, playing games as we realised we were in for a slightly longer fight than first anticipated. But time did eventually take its toll and after taking 24 hours to travel just 20 miles I began to wonder if I’d been caught in a time loop, destined to spend eternity travelling at one knot along the same stretch of the Portuguese coast. I contemplated doing a Reggie Perrin and walking quietly into the sea, although on reflection I decided a quick nap was probably the more prudent course. A few hours later I emerged slightly dazed but could see Qingdao just 100 yards away. All going as normal then? Alas, it was not. The chasing pack were now the leading pack. Punta Del Este had taken advantage of the land breeze, rounding the corner at the right time and they were pulled along for the win. Second turned into third and that quickly turned into fifth. In the end, we just held on to sixth.
Portimão has proved to be the ideal place to reflect on that final day and focus on all the positives from our race. A bountiful supply of espresso martinis has certainly helped as well. I’m confident we’ll be back fighting on the next race and hopefully, I’ll have the chance to be writing about glorious victory, rather than defeat, in the not too distant future. Watch this space.