Reflections on Leg 4 (very nearly over)
- Australia is big. We all know this. Many of us have seen the holiday postcards on which Oz is superimposed over a map of Europe and exceeds the latter’s footprint. So, thinking that Tasmania is like the Isle of Wight at the foot of Australia instead of England is wrong. Tasmania is the size of Ireland. After the best substitute for Christmas possible (see my previous blog) and a sharing of New Year’s resolutions (mine to make the most of my time and not to waste a single day), on January 8th somewhere off Tasmania we celebrated being at the halfway mark of this Leg. The mathematicians amongst us also predicted that we would land in Airlie Beach on January 13th, thus missing the Parade through the town and the Prizegiving, and also having another very short stopover before slipping lines for South East Asia on the 18th. This created some despondency which was not really lifted until around January 8th when we realised that we were only 350 miles behind Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam, the leading boat, and that with two days in hand we had a very good chance of winning. Being back in the game was a great boost to everyone. From the 9th to the 11th and into the final straight, we were further ahead than Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam had been 48 hours earlier. But yesterday, the winds died and at the time of writing (12th afternoon), achieving a third place and being on the podium lies in the balance. We need to arrive before 7.00am tomorrow to beat GoToBermuda into third place. At present we are below the target boat speed, but an increase in the wind is forecast to arrive soon, but is overdue! From a position of strength and a likely first to a possible third has been dispiriting all round. But everyone accepts that when dealing with Mother Nature, what will be will be.
Aside from the race that tends to dominate our minds at present, other memorable aspects are:
- The delight on learning that many of the supporters were having a Birthday Dinner with Sam, as I, unfortunately, could not be there
- Seeing some False Killer Whales at close quarters
- Likewise, a large pod of dolphins that accompanied us for possibly as long as ten minutes
- Having a red footed booby ride on our our boat right through the night, until I got my camera out!
- Fog that reduced visibility down to a couple of hundred metres, necessitating locking all the internal sea doors in case of collisions
- Seeing five satellites cross the sky in a matter of minutes, all perfectly spaced along a straight line
- Seeing the International Space Station, our nearest human neighbour, pass quickly overhead
- The exciting ocean sprint that challenged everyone to stay upright
- The smell of the Australian bushfires way out at sea
- The smog that obliterated the setting sun
- The black rain that covered the deck and discoloured the sails
That’s it until Leg 5, wish us luck and take care.