Today we move into the top half of the table where Mission Performance finished a solid sixth in the overall rankings with a total of 78 points.
Naming themselves the Mission Performance Warriors, from the very beginning the team’s ambitions were laid bare. Led by Gosport Skipper Greg Miller, they went on to achieve three fourth place results in Races 2, 4 and 8, and won three of the Ocean Sprints throughout the series.
The first of the Ocean Sprint victories came in Race 1 from London to Rio de Janeiro with the team showing what it was capable of by blasting through the course 46 minutes faster than its nearest rival - to be awarded the two bonus points as well as the Andrew Ashman Memorial Plate, named in legacy of the IchorCoal crew member who was a passionate sailor.
The next time the team took the sprint points was in Race 6 which turned out to be an eventful race for the Mission Performance crew. During the Henri Lloyd Hobart to Whitsundays Race Mission Performance took the decision to suspend racing to go to the assistance of a non-Clipper Race yacht which was in distress.
The team discovered the M3 yacht which had also recently taken part in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with a wrapped propeller, a damaged mainsail, and a sailor stuck at the top of the mast in heavy seas.
During the rescue, circumnavigator Gavin Reid volunteered to climb the vessel’s mast and took two hours to free the yachtsman, who had been trapped for seven hours. Mission Performance additionally made its on board medic available to the M3 crew.
Despite crossing the line in twelfth place, given the team’s reasons for suspending racing it was awarded redress by the Race Committee and finished in fifth place as a result. On top of this, the rescue also meant the team was the winner of the Stormhoek Social Spirit Award in Airlie Beach.
At Race Finish in London, their efforts and particularly those of Gavin, meant he and the crew were honoured with the Henri Lloyd Seamanship Award at the overall Prize-Giving ceremony.
“It’s all a bit of a blur. At the time it was something I had to do and I feel honoured to have been recognised for it,” Gavin said after being handed the Seamanship trophy.
It was in April 2016 that Leg 3 and 6 crew member Yuko Kikuchi sailed home to a big welcome in Seattle and reunion with her husband following a month racing across the Pacific Ocean.
The Seattle business owner is originally from Ishinomaki, Japan, a city devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. At the time, Yuko said: “I experienced some personal difficulty in the last few years and I realised had to do something for myself. Going through the big earthquake and tsunami, I was avoiding the ocean as it took a lot of lives in my city. But then I thought I have to really appreciate the ocean, and that’s part of it. I had to do it. I wanted to give some encouragement to the people there that it is okay to go back to the ocean and enjoy it.
“Seattle had never looked so good as we approached and I saw the Space Needle,” Yuko added.
It was in Race 11 from Panama to New York that Mission Performance picked up its third Ocean Sprint victory and first Scoring Gate point. So while the much coveted podium place remained elusive, the team continued to work hard to ensure they finished in the top half of the fleet.
Skipper Greg kept followers entertained with his daily skipper reports. Often a mix of sailing news and life on board, he also never failed to mention the celebrations of a wardrobe change – whether that was a new garish vest top gifted to him by the crew or the hot topic of clean underpants after every 1000 nautical miles of racing.
Keeping competition alive and well on board, no role escaped the necessity to be at your best on Mission Performance, with the introduction of the Delia award for those on Mother Duty. Named after the family favourite English chef Delia Smith, the crew took great pride in being voted for by their team mates.
“This week Richard and I won the Delia award for a breakfast treat of pancakes with maple syrup and an after eight (dinner) treat of Weetabix soaked in maple syrup, baked for ten minutes and then coated with melted Nutella and dark chocolate, sprinkled with coconut and left in the freezer to set. Thank you to all the crew for your votes. Next request has been for fruit scones,” wrote Colin Blears (Legs 5 & 8) in February while racing from Australia to Vietnam.
In the team’s final crew diary, Kiwi crew member Janine Rubie summed up the voyage and everything the team had been through.
“This journey around the world has been full of experiences. Some have made us laugh. Some have made us cry. All have made us stronger as a family, binding us together because we have shared something extraordinary; something that has taken many of us out of our comfort zones and pushed us to our limits both mentally and physically.
“What is rarely said is what happens at the end of the journey.
“We will be happy to be home, but we will also be sad that the journey is over. Some of us will be changed by what we have seen and done along the way. Some of us will return to life as it was before the journey began. We will all look back at the journey differently but we will all, at some point, smile at the memories it has given us.
“The real world may be calling right now but the next adventure is waiting. The next journey waiting for us to take that first step towards it,” Janine added.
Congratulations and thank you to Skipper Greg and all the Mission Performance crew for your resilience when things were tough on the ocean, for making us laugh (and cringe) every 1000NM, for all your images and videos and for sharing your experience with us.
Good luck with next adventure Melanie Abrams, Sara Antunes, Jens Augustinsson, Nicholas Barnaby, Keith Bendelow, Colin Blears, Kyro Brooks, Brian Cooper, Mark Cooper, Alexandre Couto, Anna Cyran, Lavinia Darby, Charles Day, Sally Derrick, Michael Dillistone, Catrin Egerton, Richard Foulkes, Craig Forsyth, Christian Goldsbrough, Lucy Grimstead, Jeff Hall, Roger Hamilton-Smith, Brian Harlock, Tamsin Hilton, James Holmes, Theodore Holt, Alison Hudson, Gary Inions, Helen Jameson, Allan Jones, Yuko Kikuchi, Marion Lang, Katherine Law, Aaron Lomas, Lawrence McDonald, Martha Mcgowan, Barry Mims, Mike Moore, Mike Morgan, Mary Morrison, Cathy Mussert, Denise Oakley, Rachel Panniker, Stephen Papastavrou, Nigel Pereira, Inna Prets, Gavin Reid, Andrew Richards, Janine Rubie, James Shepherd, Johan Silkenas, Tim Smith, Gordon Smith, Kian Huat Teo, Trevor Turner, Michelle Van Den Bergh, Edwin Van Emmerik and Paul Whitney.
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