Hello there! What a time we are having out here in the North Atlantic. Without wishing to repeat the updates and comments made by my fellow crew members I would add that the fun continues, that we are all working well together, there are plenty of smiles and we are enjoying the opportunity to sail across this great ocean - a challenge and a privilege I feel.
Following our sprint race from Bermuda to New York, you will no doubt be aware that we pushed our Code 2 spinnaker sail beyond its limits during an unexpected night-time squall. Whilst arguably exciting and full of adrenaline-pumped activity at the time, we were left a little deflated with a blown-out sail which we subsequently surveyed on the lawns of the marina in New York (along with a number of similarly damaged sails from fellow boats). Now, I'm not one to give up easily but in the searing heat of the marina lawns and faced with extensive rips from almost top to bottom and across the middle of the sail, it was clear to me, in my humble Sail Repair Officer capacity, that we lacked the necessary skills, equipment and time to deliver an effective repair that would then work when placed under the incredible pressures and strains that our sails endure. Whilst this is a disappointment, as the Code 2 sail has served us well, we have other options in our locker in the shape of both Code 1 and Code 3 sails (used for lighter or stronger winds than the Code 2). So, having left New York with all that we need to put in a good sailing performance we are currently sailing well and making good progress against great competition from our fellow Clipper Race boats.
As you might imagine, we crew get a fair amount of time to chat amongst ourselves sharing sailing stories, stories of life and our reasons for being part of this specific sailing challenge. There are many different and unique reasons why crew members undertake this challenge, which adds to the diversity and richness amongst our Clipper Race crew. For myself, I have had a long-held ambition to sail across an ocean on a yacht and to experience sailing beyond that of my limited dinghy sailing activity. So, back in 2017 after prompting from Dawn, my wife, (yes, in the darkest of days I choose to remind myself that this was her idea!) I signed up for Leg 6 and bit-by-bit added Leg 7 followed by Leg 8. I'm so glad that I will have completed three very different sailing legs, seeing and experiencing our world from different perspectives and also meeting up and working with so many different characters along the way. The Clipper Race is a milestone moment for me, as it may also be for others, as I move towards a more balanced professional working life (ok, semi-retired!) and pick up on a number of personal plans that I have been thinking about for some time. The excitement and challenges of the Clipper Race will be followed by new challenges and exciting times!
I should, perhaps, mention that for this race and also the race back to London my Mother Partner is now Ian who thankfully has a broad sense of humour, knows a pan from a pot and is happy to share his views and observations on most matters in his own way! Ian follows in Jackie's (Leg 6) and Kent's (Leg 7) footsteps as my Mother Partner - a 'big ask' but one both of us will enjoy and survive!
Of course, Dawn and my wider family and friends will be a big part of my future plans and activity. Later this month, on 19 July, Dawn and I will 'celebrate' our 42nd Wedding Anniversary. We will be apart! On that day, I fully expect to be in Derry~Londonderry as part of the Clipper Race stopover and Dawn plans to be either back home in Yorkshire or elsewhere with friends and/or family. We have plans to celebrate our anniversary and Dawn's June birthday (I did send a card!) on my return.
Best wishes to all. I can now say that I'm looking forward to seeing everyone later this month!