Race 13 - Day 6
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Crew Diary - Derry-Londonderry to Liverpool
...And now for the finishing straight by Iain Coke
I guess lots of people have been writing about their last this and last that. I won't. I don't really believe in lasts. They are so final. And who knows what the future will bring. I believe much more in firsts. They are so much more fun.
I expect to be asked a lot about how I feel about getting off the boat, and how it feels to have sailed around the world. I don't know. I'm still processing my feelings. At the end of the race, there was a mixture of relief to be getting off, uncertainty about what comes next, pride in my team and myself in our performance, satisfaction at our overall result, a little disappointment that we didn't quite make it to the top step and make the final sprint a real race, sadness at leaving the Clipper family and Clipper bubble, impatience to get back home... Lots of things.
But sailing around the world? I don't really feel like I've done that. The thing is, it's not really something I set out to do. I signed up because I wanted to compete in the race, as the most demanding sailing race I could hope to compete in. I toyed with the idea of doing just a leg, but doing the whole thing was the big draw for me.
Being around the world seemed almost too hard and too much to process. So I didn't. To use the cliché, I did take the race one leg and one race at a time. At every port, I asked myself do I want to get on the boat again (and gave myself the option to get off). Knowing myself, my determination, my perserverence and stubbornness, I knew deep down I wouldn't, but I kept that option.
Leaving Liverpool at the start, it was too much to think about 5 weeks at sea without a chance to get off, without thinking about a year, or circumnavigation. So I didn't. I compartmentalised. Do I get on (again)? Switch on for race start. Get back into the watch system. Think about this watch, this evolution, this helming session. Lots of small portions of time. To borrow the phrase, the longest journey starts with a single step, it doesn't feel so much like I've done a long journey, but lots and lots of small steps.
Maybe it will sink in in the next few months that I've sailed around the world. But for now, its more like I'm at the end of a long, tough race series, with some almighty ocean crossings.
I don't know what I'll do next yet. But I'm looking forward to finding those new firsts to do. And while it would have been great to compete to the end and get that first place trophy, second overall in the race it pretty special too.