The week started with splitting my eye brow after a sudden movement of the boat and ended with absolute calm in the Doldrums and a delayed visit of King Neptune after crossing the Equator. Other highlights were flying fish and leaking diesel tanks making life on board an ocean racing yacht with 17 people just that little bit more interesting.
This has been my first week racing onboard Clipper UNICEF which started with some very unexpected events even before we set-off on our journey to Da Nang. The Friday before the start the team said goodbye to the skipper of leg 4 and we had a team meeting with the original skipper now returned from his medical procedure in the UK. We agreed objectives for the next leg and how we would work together as a team, prepared the boat for the Monday departure at 12:00.
At 10:30 on Monday we were told that our returning skipper had decided not to continue and we were to get a new skipper and another race assistant to complete leg 5 of the race to Da Nang and onto Qingdao where the leg 4 replacement skipper would return to complete the rest of the race on Unicef.
Confused? Well you are not alone.
This week has been a nail biting week for the crews and me for different reasons. The last race from Sydney to Airlie Beach was short and therefore the finish into Airlie Beach was very close with the winner LMAX Exchange and second placed yacht Great Britain 49 seconds apart.
Earlier in the week Mission Performance reported a massive sustained gust of 70 knots pinning the yacht at a steep angle and moving it sideward at 17 knots of speed. It shows how in these warmer climates the weather can change in an instant.
This week the Clipper yachts left Hobart to race to Airlie Beach. Two days later I left Sydney to also “race” to Airlie Beach. We are all due to arrive early next week. The Clipper fleet on Monday and I will be there on Wednesday 13th January, follow this race, one powered by petrol and the other by wind.
The Sydney to Hobart race started with very challenging conditions. Racing out of Sydney harbour under spinnaker ended with a very quick change to deeply reefed main and storm sails as the wind increased to over 50 knots. Some competitors were not so lucky and some, not the Clipper yachts, sustained ripped main sails, dis-masting and other damage which had them retiring on the first day. Andrew’s blog of the events leading up to the start and the sailing under the Sydney harbour bridge gives a telling account how high profile the Rolext Syndey – Hobart Yacht Race is in the sailing world.