Race 14 - Day 11
Crew Diary - Seattle (and The End) in sight
10 July

Keith Winstanley
Keith Winstanley
Team Unicef
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Seattle is in sight this morning.

Before you think this is something of a deranged, late Leg 6 flashback, I should point out I am not talking about Seattle (metropolitan city, NW of the USA, population 624,535 in 2012) but the somewhat smaller Seattle (CV22, population approx 18 in 2022).

In the wee small hours of this morning we rounded the first additional mark of our Leg 8 Race 14 extension. Since then we have been slowly nibbling away/creeping up upon/reeling in/gnawing at (insert your own overtaking metaphor here) Seattle’s relative lead and we are hopeful we will overtake them this watch. Ahead of us lies Rockall. That’s a 19m granite rock not a statement of fact and the Sailing Directions state that Rockall light is often extinguished for long periods due to the weather. You don’t say! After that we will round St Kilda (4 isles and 3 stacks – largest island Hirta – 200 nm West of North Uist, pop 0 to small) and from there it’s a straight dash to Derry-Londonderry (population – welcoming!). The weather forecast for rounding these two rocky outposts between us and the finish line is going to be suitably spicy.

Today is the last full Sunday at sea on Clipper 2019-2020 Race. This race and The Race are in the closing stages and we are pushing for a podium finish in three days or so. This blog will be my final one from CV31 and tomorrow will be my penultimate Mother Watch since first joining in Punta del Este for Leg 2. I know this with some certainty. As Team Coordinator I get to draw up the jobs rota. I am leaving the “last word” in blogs between Derry-Londonderry and London to our three remaining round-the-worlders, Holly, Danny and JD. For my own part I will save my overall reflections for my personal blog. In any event, I am not ready to put the last four years or so into perspective and I may yet surprise myself when I try and put it all into words. For example, I am already reflecting that once the Race Finish party is complete and a small group of us complete the delivery voyage to return CV31 to Gosport, I will not have a Clipper Race Leg somewhere in my not too distant future to plan and prepare for. That already seems a little strange.

Has the experience been life changing? Almost certainly, yes. I now drink lemon and ginger tea with a dash of honey (thanks Dan Bodey!) and put marmalade in my porridge (thanks Michiel Kool); how much more life-changing do you want? I am fond of the rather cliched saying “do not look for me in my past, I do not live there anymore” but it’s going to take me some time to “pack away” the last 4 years. And it’s much too early to get emotional.

We still have this race to complete and race 15 to London ahead of us and more points and pennants to win. But as I sign off this blog a huge shout out to all the UNICEF crew it has been my privilege to sail with on Legs 2, 3, 6 and now 8. It has been, and continues to be, a blast. A massive “Thank You” to all the supporters and friends who have followed our trials and tribulations via Race Viewer (its not over yet!) and in person at our various stopovers. Finally my heartfelt thanks to close friends and family for your love and support and in particular Ruth for her love, humour, belief, support, understanding, forbearance, resilience and patience (not always in that order!).