49. Leg 1 Race 2 (a)

As I’m sure you know, this race started from Portimao on Sunday 15th September and is due to finish at Punta del Este in Uruguay around 12 to 16th October (the arrival window). I am flying out a couple of days before to make sure I wave them both in this time (as long as they don’t come in at some unfashionable hour when I’m fast asleep).

The highlight of this race is crossing the Equator, making Shellbacks out of Pollywogs (those who have never sailed across the Equator before, flying around the world doesn’t count). You should just be able to see a dotted line on this shot, below the Doldrums Corridor End, which shows where the Equator is. A long way off yet.

I know that the youngsters who have signed up as Junior Crew Supporters have been practicing this event for a while, but as I’ve not been sent any photos (I wonder why?) then you’ll have to make do with this, John’s father’s certificate which has pride of place in his childhood home. I doubt the Clipper crew will get anything anywhere near as attractive.

Crossing The Equator

In Post 48a, Qingdao had gone into Stealth Mode. They came out ahead of Ha Long Bay (who had been in Stealth the day before, but unfortunately came across Qingdao so the secrecy was lost). Qingdao were second over the Scoring Gate, with Sanya first and Ha Long Bay third.

Two more points to Qingdao! Now on 14 points at the top of the table with Punta del Este.

It’s now Tuesday 24th and Unicef were the third to go into Stealth Mode last night, we won’t know where they are until tonight. The front runners of the fleet were passing the Cape Verde Islands, with Unicef taking a different route through them. This shows their last known position so you can see where they went offline. They are the mid-blue blob in the middle of the Islands on the left of the shot.

I hope you understood, from Post 48, the horrible place that is the Doldrums and how boring it is with nothing happening for days on end. Well, things do not always follow the expectations. Here’s a shot of the Doldrums now, with Tropical Cyclone Garry showing up in deep orange to purple. The fleet look to be using the outskirts to get some wind to push them into the Doldrums more quickly, especially Punta del Este (the yellow blob). We should know in the next couple of days who was able to benefit from the cyclone.

BUT, I hear you cry, this is all about the fleet. What is our favourite landlubber up to all this time? Fear not, gentle reader, I have been busy and not just with washing and injections (ref Post 47). OK, so some of the time has been taken up with getting stuff to take out to John, although the compression straps are proving elusive. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the painting by Mark Wiggin, father to the Unicef Skipper Ian. He was asked by Ian to create a picture to commemorate this race. At the time only three boats had been branded, Unicef, the yellow one (Punta del Este) and the red one (Qingdao), and Mark chose to include the red one. Well, my two boats, it was written in the stars! It was in the Unicef tent at the Fanzone at St Katherine’s Dock and anyone could put in a bid, but not many people did so I managed to outbid them. Last week I popped over to Unicef UK to collect it and it’s now got pride of place in my home! I can follow the Race Viewer and look at the boats at the same time.

I have been doing other things as well: walking in Battersea Park with Rene (friend) and Clint (Welshie), going out to dinner at Moo, an Argentinian restaurant up the road and meeting neighbours in the block. In the next few days I’ll be getting some culture at the V&A and Tate Britain, possibly the Tate Modern too. I finally got around to turning the television on, the first time since July, and seeing what Netflix has to offer. Most of all I’ve been practicing the piano (Grade 4 scales and simple classical) and looking at the view in gloomy London. Portimao seems a long time ago already.