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The Scoring Gate
青岛帆船网 2017-10-16 17:25:21 

So, as we jostled and tacked with only15 minutes go before Race Start on October4th , we eventually crossed the start line in a prized pole position. This sounds easy, but with35 knots of breeze and twelve70 foot yachts jostling for position as we passed the breakwater of Punta del Este Marina, it was quite a feat.

That was barely one week ago and it felt as though it was our first battle won - this was a good omen for our race to South Africa. We headed east, pointing on a northerly wind, with our sights firmly set on the Scoring Gate. As we watched a few Clipper Race boats head south, the fleet began to split. We already had decided to have our eyes on the first three points of this race. With the wind blowing from Antartica, we beat hard into the chilling breeze all alone at45 degrees for five days, then in the distance the mast of Liverpool2018appeared over our stern.

Once again the race was on and all the crew were buzzing around the Time Zero instruments in the Nav station, all hands checking relative speed and distances and wind angles. A sudden and renewed enthusiasm came upon everyone to engage in sail trim and sit on the high side to gain more boat speed, as Liverpool2018 continued to gain ground on us. Through last night's bitterly cold night watches, we sailed into the centre of a high pressure zone and we slowed, next call“everyone on the low side”. All of the night watch crew were feeling the Antarctic chill through their bones, and we were each taking turns to go below get a hot drink to in order to stop us shivering. As dawn broke on day six, we were starting once again to pull away from Liverpool2018, and all our efforts began to pay off. We just had to sail high and keep on course to get over the Scoring Gate line to the first three points of this race.

My duty today, is the very envied position of Navigator for a day. This involves constant monitoring of the fleet on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) and weather movements. It is a full time job with the niggling draw back of engine checks and bilge duties too. That said, I am afforded the home comfort of walking around in shorts, t-shirts, and a natty pair of Crocks (no socks!), whilst the rest of my watch are fully wrapped in several layers and neck buffs and balaclavas. I say the rest of the crew with one exception. Our skipper has resumed his now somewhat relaxed attitude. As we are not nearing any race finish line or mark, he having decided that today he will play at being Mother for the first time. Since then he has been in the galley from day break!

So, with the Scoring Gate in site and Liverpool2018 tailing us, I had one last race up on deck for a change to the port tack. Whilst still in my shorts, I grabbed a life jacket waking Andy my bunk buddy forgetting to say what was happening. I then dashed up on deck, joined in the evolution and we headed over the northern end of the Scoring Gate at13.49 GMT, once again securing the first three points of the Stormhoek Race2 to the Cape of Storms. Great cheers up on deck of Qingdao as we had done the double on the Scoring Gate for the second race in a row. Down below after the tack, I returned only to be confronted with Andy and most of the off watch trying to pick up all their belongings which had been UN-ceremoniously dumped on the floor, each sleepy crew member climbing back into their bunks or re-adjusting their bunk as we are now leaning at the opposite45 degree angle.

We are heading east with the Elliot Brown Sprint and then Cape Town in our sights with2,300 nautical miles to go. All I look forward to now is a warm land, dry boots, and a level surface on which I am able to stand upright or rest my drink. I have kind of become accustomed to all the other discomforts on board now, even the tiny slanted toilet.

Wishing my love to my family and friends and my three special little ones Nina, Lani and Annie.

Its great to know that whilst we are shivering, exhausted and more often than not questioning this years holiday planning, that the people in our lives at home are still avidly following our race.

Hasta la Vista Al Jay x


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