Position: 39 Degrees 57 North 001 Degrees 11 East Last day at sea! Less than 100 miles to go!
I frequently get asked why I do this kind race when I know that I will be wet, cold and uncomfortable in advance? While there is no more impressive race course than “around the world” the motivation is not to circumnavigate the globe. That was done in 1522 by Magellan’s three year expedition and can now be done in 48 hours by anyone with a credit card and a stomach for airplane food. Is it then pointless to go all that way just to end up in the same place? No, that would be like saying that Lewis Hamilton just drives around in circles on Sunday afternoons!
Instead we come to seek mother nature’s permission to pass through her wildest realms, to test our mettle against her most furious storms and our patience in the most agonizing calms. Most fundamentally it is a challenge and an opportunity to grow as a person. Being cut off from daily routines, but also the external support systems that we rely on, is an extreme opportunity to refine my skills and push the limits of my emotional strength, ingenuity, resilience and physical endurance.
Most importantly, I think it that constantly solving the range of challenges presented by this race makes me a better person. I will get married in a few months and this exciting event has been an interesting contrast to think about during this race. Relationships are often compared to being in the same boat with someone else so how better to practice patience and compassion than lock up two strong willed individuals in a small space and shake it up and down! Learning to perform in a team with somebody you don’t know at all will surely make me more patient husband. Nandor and I have been through more in a few months than many partnerships will in years and our team, and friendship, is the treasured result of living in each other’s pockets while sweating, swearing and bleeding together.
Even as we wait for Barcelona to appear on the horizon ahead, this type of short handed ocean racing remains a predominantly French sport and it is in another great French sport that the best comparisons for our performance can be found. Every summer, garishly dressed cyclists sweat their way through fields of sunflowers and over mountains during the Tour de France in pursuit of the yellow winner’s jersey. After three weeks of toil, the winner is showered with fame and glory on the Champs Elysses but special recognition is also kept for the last placed cyclist. This plucky character is dubbed the “Lanterne Rouge”, after the red light hung on the last wagon at the end of the train. The lanterne rouge chases the finish line in obscurity and risks elmination by daily time cuts but his gutsy effort is recognised by the public because, while he might be the last one on the road, there are plenty who would have quit and gone home rather than ride on in his shoes.
So it is for us. We approach the finish as the last competitors on the water, but we are arriving seventh of the eight boats that started and narrowly escaped being forced to abandon several times ourselves. There were other teams that tried to make it to the start line but fell short, so in making it all the way around the course I think we’ve done something worth being proud of. I hope that Nandor and I will be able to sail together as competitors in the upcoming Vendee Globe and that our experience as lanterne rouge will allow a future pursuit of the yellow jersey!
Thank you for following our story thus far, it has been a pleasure to share our adventures with you and I look forward to next time.