Race 1 - Day 29
Skipper Report
18 September

Nikki Henderson
Nikki Henderson
Team Visit Seattle
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I always imagined that when we went into Stealth Mode, we would instigate our genius tactical plan and then pop up 24 hours later in a brilliant position, having covered considerably more miles than everyone else. Well...let's just say it didn't quite go the way we were expecting. In fact, we are pretty sure we played Stealth Mode just to hide our absolute nightmare of a 24 hours. A combination of bad luck and poor decision making from my part, has resulted in Visit Seattle being 'kite-less'. We always said we wanted to treat this like a training leg - well I think the crew could probably write a short book on how to sort out what we now refer to as 'kite-mares'. What do they say...if you are going to do it, you might as well do it properly.

First Huwahuwaii (our lightweight spinnaker) went down. We figured she was so jealous of Ariel (mediumweight spinnaker) that she decided to spontaneously combust and take a dive for the sea. This was poor decision on my part; we were stretching Huwahuwaii beyond her limits, but we definitely learned how far she can go! Having had a little practice in saving tennis court sized cloth from the sea, the crew saved her from the depths and she has now joined her sister in the sail locker in an induced coma.

About half a day later, we officially named our Code 3 (heavyweight spinnaker). Initially, we had been calling her OB1 - 'our only hope' - but by the end of the day, she became a “he” - 'Murphy' - after Murphy's Law. Murphy just did not want to fly. He went up once, and slipped half way down almost immediately. Ariel and the sea anchor flashed before our eyes, but the crew got him straight back into the boat no problem. He went up again, and twisted himself into a big knot - down he came. He went up again and came straight back down because we had too much wind. Then finally he went up AGAIN, and basically combined with a small gust and a big bang he decided to rip his halyard and block (system that holds him upright) away from the mast, and dive straight down in the water again, catch on the rudder - rip a little - and then stream out the back the boat until we rescued him as well. People say things come in threes - well yesterday, disasters came in tens.

So, we have now reverted to the traditional Yankee and Main set up, and will remain like this for the rest of the race. It has been an exhausting 24 hours - physically demanding and emotionally draining. The thing that has shone throughout this is the teamwork on board. Everyone pulled together to save, drop, or hoist whatever was needed without question. There are people onboard who really - really - dug deep yesterday, working well beyond the end of their watch to help do what was needed. I'm so proud of all of these guys/gals for their grit and their resilience and their determination to do whatever they can to keep this boat moving until the end. Unfortunately, we are likely to see a podium position slip away from our grasp now, which is awful after leading for so long. But what we have learned has been invaluable and it has revealed how strong we are as a team. This is what is keeping us going now and what will keep us going for the next ten months. Watch this space!

Sailing with style - well not so much yesterday - Nik