74. Race 6 Results

I arrived on St Valentine’s Day in the late afternoon. Six boats had beaten me here: in order, WTC Logistics, Qingdao, Ha Long Bay Viet Nam (HLB), Sanya, Imagine Your Korea (IYK) and Punta del Este (PdE). So once again I was unable to wave George in. Once again, after Christmas, New Year and my birthday, JD missed a special day! The race was an odd one with lots of wind holes and great difficulty predicting timings.

The hotel I had booked into was on the coast. It was adequate, the room was small with a tiny balcony that overlooked the sea if you could see through the bamboos growing outside. The aircon was so noisy you could not sleep, but if you turned it off it was too hot to sleep (and the disco next door was suddenly very noisy). However, a night there revealed ants in the room by the bedhead. Well, some very small insects which I think were ants but I’d left my pocket microscope behind. Then I went down to breakfast. We were given a scrap of paper with various options to tick. As the waitress spoke English I guess it was to make life easy for the chef. Being unadventurous I chose ham, scrambled eggs, toast and hot chocolate. The toast was that sweet bread that clings to your teeth, the ham was like no ham I have ever seen and the hot chocolate was more water than anything else.

Unicef arriving

Unicef were due in (last estimate) between midnight and three am Sunday so I repaired to the Yacht Club about ten on Saturday night for a late supper and a wait. If you’re reading this on the website you’ll see my manic face at about three in the morning. They sailed into view about 2.30 am, unfortunately eleventh as GoToBermuda (GTB) had overtaken them in the last few hours. We went for the obligatory beer and managed to find a burger at about 3.30 am then took a taxi back to the hotel and crashed at about 6 am for three hours’ sleep before JD had to be back on the boat at 9 am. There was a team briefing for everyone, including we happy few, we band of 15 supporters, telling us the plan for after they leave here. I’ll give that in the next blog post. By lunchtime, when I next had the chance to talk with JD, he’d decided that he could not stay in that hotel and had found a room at the Yacht Club. A huge suite with decent aircon, two double beds and a sofa, a table to work at and a little balcony. No WiFi in the first room so they moved us next door where the router was and the WiFI works. No view of the sea but a small objection against the two minute walk to the boat. George also moved out of the original hotel to an apartment where other crew were staying.

Yacht Club room with JD in the far distance!

BUT the title of this post is Race 6 results so that’s what I’ll tell you about. The prize giving was on Monday 17th at the yacht club outside in the sun. There was a great reggae band which consisted of local high school kids. The results of the Ocean Sprint were announced: Dare To Lead (DTL) fastest with three points, PdE second with two points and Qingdao third with one point. In terms of the race, WTC have eleven points for coming first, Qingdao ten, HLB nine, Sanya eight, IYK seven, PdE six, DTL five, Seattle four, Zhuhai three, GTB two and our own Unicef one. Add in the Scoring Gate (HLB first, WTC second and DTL third) and we get overall positions of Qingdao first with 78 points (eleven this race), HLB second with 74 points (12 this race), PdE third 49 (eight), Sanya fourth 46 (also eight), IYK up to fifth with 41 (seven), joint sixth with 38 points are WTC (thirteen this race), DTL (nine) and Unicef (one), ninth GTB with 29 (two), tenth Zhuhai (three) and eleventh Seattle 26 (three). Still very close and all to play for in the remaining races.

Reggae band

Tomorrow (possibly) I’ll let you into the new plans made by Clipper and how it affects me and MBB. I’m still unsure what I will be doing but I guess if I give you my options we could put it to the popular vote (no London McLondonfaces or China McChinafaces though please!).

Prize giving

72. Just Another Manic Monday

Post 71 attracted more readers than ever before. Sorry folks if you thought I had the answer to what’s happening with the fleet. It’s like I’m in a holding pattern, waiting to see where I get diverted to and have I enough fuel or time to get there? I’ve decided to get on with my life until we have firm news from Clipper on where the fleet are going to land up, then I’ll decide whether I’m going there as well (whether it’s possible as much as whether I want to).

What have I being doing, you ask? Apart from emails from the boss asking me to buy yet more socks, I’ve been enjoying London culture. I’m starting to have a routine: piano practice (yes honestly, but I had to start at my Grade 1 book again as I’d forgotten where Middle C was. Oops!) then a 15 minute or so walk in the fresh air. The Garden Museum is about that far and I love it. The latest exhibition is about the Royal Parks. I hadn’t realised that the pelicans have been in St James’ Park since 1664, a present from the Russian ambassador. Nor that there were piggeries in Hyde Park and potato fields in Richmond and Bushy Parks during World War II. It may yet happen again now that we need to be self-reliant and not rely on imported food.

Parade of Sail, Sydney Harbour, New Year’s Eve

After my walk it’s a free day. So far I’ve been to see Touching the Void play and Mitsuko Uchida play (and conduct) Mozart at the Royal Festival Hall. These were both amazing. I’ve had six days where I’ve met up with pals, some pre-existing and some from Clipper. I’ve had a hair cut and done a bit of shopping for JD (oh, have I already mentioned that?). I have had a complete blank in my diary for three days of the first fortnight back. Bliss! The laundry and shopping don’t do themselves (although I’m working on it. Anyone want to be my valet?).

If you’ve read the book or seen the film of Touching the Void you must wonder how on earth they managed to put it on stage. It was visually fascinating, set in a pub with imaginative use of tables and chairs up the theatre sides as climbing walls. On one part, where they were falling into the crevasse, they were lying on tables facing the audience but it looked as though they were falling down into the darkness. It’s soon to finish but if you have time to spare then it’s well worth the trip to London. Very intense though so be prepared.

View from my seat (before the performance)

The other performance, at the Royal Festival Hall, you can’t see, although you might be able to see a similar performance. Mitsuko Uchida, DBE, who will be 71 this year, is a highly talented classical pianist and is currently the Artistic Partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Here they played Mozart’s Piano Concertos 17 and 22: she conducted the orchestra from her piano as well as playing. The music was sublime, I bought my seat at the last minute and I’m sure it was one of the best in the hall. It made me realise that my piano playing is like painting-by-numbers versus Manet or Turner. If you think she merely played the score as written, then I found out that Mozart played a lot of his own music and often didn’t leave a proper score to follow. The concert was about two hours but I could have listened all night. It’s not music you hum along to like Abba or Queen (well, I don’t) but you get lost in it when they’re playing. One thing I’ve yet to work out: the drummer (sorry, percussionist) kept resting his nose gently on the drums. Testing for vibrations? Answers on a postcard please (or via the comment section of this blog).

View from my seat (after the performance)

Talking of the comment section, thank you to all who commented either this way or off line to say how relieved you were that I’m not going to China. The trip was preying on my mind so I’m glad the decision was made for me by the FCO.

I guess at some stage I need to mention the Race. They are now through the Doldrums Corridor and have passed over the Equator again so are back in the Northern Hemisphere. Those new leggers who had not crossed the Equator (pollywogs) had a visit from King Neptune and all are now shellbacks. I still don’t know how tadpoles become turtles, must be something to do with evolution. However, the Trade Winds have not yet appeared (Sunday night) so if you look at Race Viewer they seem to be milling around with no obvious line of sail. (If you’ve forgotten where to find this, go to https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings and click on the windsock to see wind speeds (or lack thereof)). Blue is bad and has been there for days. A few boats have been in or are in Stealth mode. The boredom on the boats has been relieved by them playing Assassin, not a game I’d come across but a bit like Cluedo. Each crew member has a weapon, a place and a fellow member to murder. If successful, you get the victim’s “cards” and so have another murder to commit. I guess you need to be in an enclosed space to play it well.

Which way should we go?

The Scoring Gate has been passed and the results are: Ha Long Bay (HLB) three points, WTC Logistics two points and Dare to Lead (DTL) one point. This is great for DTL as it’s their first bonus point. It’s not so great for Qingdao as HLB is now only two points behind them. It’s getting exciting!

…It’s now the Manic Monday of today’s title. I started off with trying to sort out finances. Having gone to the bank on Friday without some of the documents I needed, I went back today with everything, I thought. All went well until he asked “security” questions like what direct debits had been cancelled in the last year and when did I open the business account (I didn’t even know I had one). After an hour all seemed to be sorted but I now need to investigate this business account, apparently it has money in it!

Are we there yet?

That wasn’t the real manic bit though. At 1300 today, the Clipper office announced that the fleet would not be going into Sanya (think we’d worked that one out) but they WILL be going into Subic Bay early and staying there for “a minimum of nine days”, with the arrival window estimated to start on 13th February. NEXT WEEK! Much liaison between supporters as it’s recommended you don’t stay alone out there. Yes, dear reader, I’m about to be your foreign correspondent again, not from China though. I managed to get the last room in a hotel close to Subic Bay marina. Also, the fleet now have a bit of orange and red to the winds so should speed up. Just not too fast please, I need to be there first. You’ll also see that the race end has been updated to Subic Bay.

If you’ve read enough from me, here’s a crew diary from Angie that mentions JD’s culinary skills. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/1046 and one from the man himself https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/1048

Philippines, here I come!

65. Race 4 Results

The results were already known, even before all the boats had finished. Before I list them, here are a few other exciting things I got up to in Fremantle.

The first was listening to Christmas music. Every time I came into the hotel and every morning when I sat down to breakfast, it was blaring out at me. The first day when I had lunch with George and we sat outside, I honestly though there was a busker on the street. I am rather partial to playing Christmas music from mid-December, but NOT THE SAME TUNES! I think it was on a loop of about half an hour as during breakfast it repeated.

Prize giving was a bit subdued with three boats missing, but once again we had Qingdao on the podium so much cheering.

As we knew Unicef would have a very tight turn-around, the supporters that were in Fremantle formed the Unicef elves group (as mentioned in the previous post) to try and get as much done as we could for them. The main issue was victualling, buying and sorting the food for about 18 people for 20 days. Without the day bags, we had heaps of food all over the house Angie had borrowed from a pal of hers. When Unicef arrived, the new “leggers” were drafted to do as much as possible on the boat to allow the circumnavigators and returning leggers some rest. A good learning experience.

On the “fun” side, I went off to Penguin Island with Cheryl and Lizelle, two other Unicef supporters. The only penguins we saw were ten in the rescue centre, the rest were out at sea, but there were thousands of bridled terns, pelicans and other birds we couldn’t identify. A lovely restful day communing with nature. We then had some lunch at Rockingham on the way back to Freo. The place we stopped at looked better than it actually was. Ketchup and mayonnaise cost extra, and the loos required a key from the bar. The first door was open so we walked through. After about five minutes wandering around back corridors, we found the Ladies locked. The Gents next to it was open, so we took it in turns to guard and use that. Nothing if not resourceful! I also had a couple of beach walks and a stroll in Kings Park in Perth.

There was an ongoing joke at work meetings about the Late John Dawson. Well, he surpassed any of those timings this race. However, looking on the bright side, Unicef crew certainly had their money’s worth since leaving Cape Town. Their deadline kept going backwards and they eventually arrived Friday night 20th December with a leaving date of 24th, together with Sanya and Punta, forty-eight hours after the main fleet. The next race is going to be interesting to calculate who is winning.

George and Cheryl waiting for Unicef

Results. I’m sure if you’re really interested you’ll have looked them up by now, but for the record here they are. Scoring Gate: Qingdao 3 points, Ha Long Bay 2, Imagine Your Korea 1. Ocean Sprint: GoToBermuda 3 points, WTC 2, Korea 1 again. Race: Qingdao 11 points, Ha Long Bay 10 with Joker making it 20, Korea 9, Bermuda 8, WTC 7, Zhuhai 6, Dare To Lead 5, Seattle 4. The three late boats: Punta 9 based on past performance, Sanya nil due to being disqualified for crashing into Punta, and Unicef 3 for being last.

The race so far therefore is Qingdao in the lead with 62 points, Ha Long Bay second with 51, Punta third with 36, Sanya fourth with 32, Unicef still fifth with 26, Dare To Lead sixth with 25, Korea seventh with 23, Zhuhai eighth with 21 (if you think my addition is wrong, I forgot to mention they had two penalty points for sail repairs), WTC ninth with 20, Bermuda tenth with 19 and Seattle bringing up the rear with 17.

61. Confused? You Will Be!

Almost as soon as Post 60 went out, the decision on the Sanya / Punta collision was published on the Clipper website. Sanya has been found in clear breach of the rules “On Opposite Tacks”. You’ll have to find an expert sailor to explain it to you, but as a consequence Sanya are disqualified from Race 4 and will have zero points. They can also not gain any points from the Scoring Gate (which they obviously wouldn’t anyway as the first three yachts will be through before Sanya and Punta have even left Cape Town) nor the Ocean Sprint.

The Santa Boat? Unicef leaving Cape Town (CT)

Punta, on the other hand, has been given redress and awarded 9 points in the race, based on their performance to date in the first three races (including Scoring Gate, Ocean Sprint and final Race positions). They could also gain points from the Ocean Sprint if they are one of the three fastest times. We won’t know that for quite a while.

Clipper pennants on our spectator boat in CT

Once all repairs are finished they will race against each other to Fremantle, not against the rest of the fleet. There is an unique Clipper Race match racing trophy which will be presented to the winner of this two-boat race. This does seem odd to me, disqualify someone then say but you might win a special cup. If they require repairs to sails or equipment, the normal penalties will apply. They are expected to leave Cape Town by 29th November, based on the way the repairs are progressing. They had a practice sail on 24th November to get them all back in the swing of things. They should arrive in Fremantle just in time to join Leg 4, Race 5.

Last view of the fleet leaving CT

Back at Unicef, trundling towards Durban to drop off Andrew Toms and his suspect appendix. It had been thought they’d get there on Sunday 24th but it is today, Tuesday 26th, due to the winds not being very helpful. They can’t motor all the way as they’d not have enough fuel and they can’t medevac him until closer to shore. The poor chap only joined for this Leg so “The Race of Your Life” has gone terribly wrong for him. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race4-day8-team48

It’s painful looking at Race Viewer this race, what with John headed in the wrong direction, in addition to the two stuck at Cape Town. By the end of this week all three of them should be headed towards Fremantle but they’re not going to have much turn-around time before Race 5. I don’t know what happens to Unicef in terms of points either. Someone said they won’t get any redress, that only happens if they have to divert for the Skipper. That seems very unfair and could in theory encourage a crew member to downplay any illness.

The Race Committee can, “at their discretion”, award points they think are appropriate. The Rules say that time spent on any diversion will normally count as time spent racing and that redress is not awarded for medical evacuations. I guess this means Unicef will have only two or three points for coming near the end: we don”t know if the nine points awarded to Punta means they are in third place or if someone else will be third (that is, two boats receive nine points). All very confusing. Punta will not be in Fremantle in time for the prizegiving so I think they cannot be considered to have third place. We’ll find out on December 14th at the prizegiving.

Donna with the compass (see Post 54)

Dare to Lead have had a freezer failure so all fresh food that they could not eat in time went overboard. Happy sharks! GoToBermuda’s generator broke down. Qingdao’s water maker (gives them fresh water) broke down. Nearly all the boats seem to be having to do major sail repairs. At least two have had problems with their wind instruments, meaning night time sailing is difficult. They are all putting safety before all-out racing. I’ve not heard anything from John, although he’s had a couple of mentions in the Skipper reports and crew diaries, so he’s still on board! George did another crew diary on 25th November which you can find here https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/637

So at the moment this race is doom and gloom, and as London is cold and grey there’s not much cheer here. Well that’s not true, I’m having a busy and fun time. I’ll tell you about it soon.

The Scoring Gate results are in. Here we have good news. Qingdao 1st across (three points so a total of 51), Ha Long Bay (HLB) second (two points, not doubled as the Joker only applies to the main race, giving a total of 31 ) and Imagine Your Korea (IYK) third (one point to bring them up to 13). It was very close between IYK and Zhuhai for the last two days but then Zhuhai hit a wind hole and slowed down. The shot below from Race Viewer shows how close they were, with the blue line being the Scoring Gate. In fact, on Nick’s Skipper report he says Qingdao radio’d and asked if they had a problem as they seemed to have come to a complete stop. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/zhuhai/race4-day9-team45

The race for third position

With the Ocean Sprint offering another three points and the Joker allowing HLB to get 22 if they win, it’s not guaranteed that Qingdao will be top of the pack in Fremantle, although they’ll have to be incredibly unlucky in the next fortnight. Stay tuned!

I think this applies to all of us!

60. Bound for South Australia

Not the most encouraging of songs, with the lyric “and as we wallop round Cape Horn (heave away, haul away) you’ll wish to God you’ve never been born”, although it does refer to going the other way around the globe via Cape Horn, not the Cape of Good Hope as OBB are doing. This was originally called the Cape of Storms due to the unpredictable weather, so maybe another sea shanty, Roll The Old Chariot Along, would be better: “we’d be alright if the wind was in our sails “.

A lot happened in Cape Town. As well as Punta being penalised six hours and ending up fourth, Imagine Your Korea (IYK) skipper Mike Surridge (see blog post 53) resigned during the stop-over. He’s been replaced for this race by Dan Smith, who was in the 2015/16 Race. At Fremantle Rob Graham will take over, who was a Skipper on the 2017/18 Race, so both have plenty of experience. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/imagine-your-korea-update

Then at the start of Race 4 out of Cape Town, Punta del Este (PdE) and Visit Sanya collided, badly enough to have to return to the dock for repairs. I was out in a spectator boat and got a shot of them tangled together but I can’t put it here, it’s too painful. However, out of a disaster comes some good, Punta donated all their fresh food to a local Captonian charity rather than have it go to waste. Both boats are being repaired and should be able to get to Fremantle in time to join Race 5 to Airlie Beach in The Whitsundays.

The fleet from the roof top bar of The Silo

If you are watching Race Viewer you’ll have been wondering what Unicef are up to. This morning I received a phone call from the Clipper office to tell me they were diverting back to Durban (on the South African coast) as one of the crew members, Andrew Toms, has suspected appendicitis. The poor chap only joined at Cape Town. I’ll keep you updated.

Unicef preparing for the off

Now that I have all the results I can summarise them for you. First the Scoring Gate: IYK three points, Visit Sanya two and PdE one. Next the Ocean Sprint: Seattle three points, Ha Long Bay (HLB) two and Qingdao one.

Unicef on their way

Penalty points for Leg 1 of the Race: PdE had five penalty points for a replacement Code 2 sail, I think a Yankee, or maybe a Spinnaker. I’m sure someone out there can let me know. Two others had penalty points for damage to equipment, IYK two points for damage costing over £1000, to the inner forestay, steaming light cage and pulpit repairs. Then Seattle one point for damage costing over £500 for pulpit repairs.

Unicef’s pennant

The Race 3 results were: 1st Qingdao (11 points), 2nd Unicef (10 points), 3rd HLB (9 points), 4th PdE (8 points), 5th Sanya (7 points), 6th WTC Logistics (6 points), 7th IYK (5 points), 8th Seattle (4 points), 9th GoToBermuda (GTB) (3 points), 10th Dare To Lead (DTL) (2 points) and 11th Zhuhai (1 point). Zhuhai had an injured crew member and had chosen to motor to Cape Town for the last few days for his comfort.

Qingdao’s pennants

Pulling all of this together, the current board reads Qingdao 48, Sanya 32, HLB 29, PdE 27, Unicef 23, DTL 20, Zhuhai 17, Seattle 13, IYK 12, WTC 11 and GTB 8. As there are still 12 races left plus Scoring Gates and Ocean Sprints, nothing is sure. HLB are playing their Joker for Race 4, so if they win this plus some bonus points they will be up there with Qingdao. In the 2017/18 Race the final winner was not decided until the very last race, with Sanya, Seattle and Qingdao all in the running. Who will need a full manicure by the end? Or will it be too late for our nails?

Me and Charlotte on the spectator boat

I hadn’t intended to write two blog posts so close together so you may have to wait for the next one, as long as no other news comes along. We should have the Scoring Gate result by Monday so let’s hope that nothing newsworthy happens this weekend. I’m sure there’s no news in the outside world that’s as interesting as life at this angle!

GoToBermuda heeling over

58. Leg 3, Race 4

Before I start to tell you about the next race, a little information on the rules. You can find them on the Clipper website under “The Race”. There are general rules that apply over the whole year, governed by international sailing rules in the main, then course-specific ones for each individual race. Of interest today are the penalties, either in the form of a time penalty or in penalty points. The time penalty will reflect where you are positioned in that race, penalty points appear in a separate column in the race viewer “overall race” section (on a computer, not on a phone). As yet no penalty points have appeared but we expect that to change very soon.

The fleet in harbour

If a boat is over the line when the start is signalled, they will have an hour added to their time, plus one minute for every second they are over the line. If they go around and recross the line the penalty will not apply but they’ll obviously lose time in doing this.

If they do not hand in the forms that are required before racing, at the appointed time, they will get two penalty points each for the three different forms that are required, so possibly six penalty points. Failure to hand the main ones in before starting to race will result in a disqualification for that race (no points awarded, wherever they come in the racing). For the others there are more penalty points as time passes with no forms appearing. Similar rules apply for the forms required at the end of the race, although instead of being disqualified they’ll get another two penalty points. Forgetting your paperwork could result in your having minus points for a race!

Cloud between Table Mountain and Signal Hill

Opposite to penalties is redress. If a boat has to divert to help another Clipper yacht or any other vessel, they may be granted compensation for time lost. This could result in a yacht being bumped up the results table, such that the first three over the line may not always be the three on the podium.

For any sail repairs by external companies costing more than £500 over the whole race there will be two penalty points for every extra £500. For example, you spend £250 in Race 1 having a sail repaired, then £300 in Race 2, you’ve exceeded that £500 limit. If Race 3 requires repairs costing more than £450 you’ll reach £1000 and get two penalty points. If a sail cannot be repaired and has to be replaced, a penalty of five to eight points will be allotted (depending on which stage of the race that this happens). This is why sail repairs by the crew are so important. As well as the repairs that happen in port, there will be people down in the sail locker carrying out repairs during the racing. Unicef are lucky in having Holly, a circumnavigator (and surgeon), as the sail repairer. Qingdao also have a circumnavigator, Bertrand, but have lost Jo, who only signed up for Legs 1 and 2 and was very experienced at repairs. The same rules apply to lost or damaged equipment. In the last Race (2017-18) I’m told there were only a couple of boats that did not exceed these costs.

Seattle and Bermuda

Course specific instructions will cover the exact position of the start and finish lines, the Scoring Gate and the Ocean Sprint. It will detail areas that cannot be entered, for example in Race 3, there was an exclusion zone of 3 nautical miles off parts of the coast around Cape Town, resulting in Punta del Este being knocked off the podium and leading to a Dawson One-Two of Qingdao and Unicef. I may have mentioned that already?

Unicef crew with their pennant

Enough technical stuff for today. Leg 3 consists of Race 4 only, from Cape Town in South Africa to Fremantle in Australia. Race 3 was described by many crew as “brutal”, constantly cold and wet. Race 4 is likely to be more of the same. Where Race 3 was around two weeks in length, Race 4 will be over three weeks. They leave Cape Town on Sunday 17th November and the arrival window is December 9th to 14th. I arrive very early on 9th so let’s hope I’m not kept waiting too long (nor that they are kept waiting for me).

As Cape Town was the end of a Leg, crew changes will be happening. For Qingdao, I think that four crew leave (two who did Legs 1 and 2, one who did Leg 2 only and one who will be returning on later legs). There will be an extra eight arriving, so overall Qingdao will gain four. For Unicef, five are leaving (three of whom did Leg 2 only, and two who will be rejoining the boat at a later leg). They are gaining seven, so an increase of two, although one of these did Leg 1 and is now returning for Leg 3. I know of other boats where people are leaving early, due either to illness or for personal reasons. I’m not aware of any getting off our two boats when they were expecting to continue.

Qingdao crew with their pennant

I had promised the Race 3 results in this post but as Crew Briefing takes place later today (Saturday) and any penalty points accrued to date should be announced then, I’ll keep this for the next post. The midday gun has just been fired, MBB are on their boats preparing for the race start tomorrow and I have other things to do. More later. Bye for now from your Cape Town correspondent.

Cape Town and Table \Mountain from the water

56. Leg 2 Race 3

A few more photos of Punta del Este to break up the text before the next post, from Cape Town.

Casapueblo, passed on our bus trip

This is the first time crew members will have changed, some getting off at Punta del Este after Leg 1 and others getting on for Leg 2. Looking at the farewell photos on the Clipper website, https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/view-gallery/the-fleet-departs-punta-del-este it would appear that there are 15 crew on Bermuda, 16 on Dare To Lead, 18 on Ha Long Bay, 19 each on Sanya, Unicef, Seattle, Zhuhai and Korea, 20 on Qingdao, 21 on Punta and 22 on WTC Logistics.

Much discussion goes on about weight, whether fewer crew means faster boats (not just the crew themselves but the food requirements as well), or whether fewer crew means more tired crew as they have to do more. I’m not sure, based on the results to date, that it has any meaningful impact.

A local bird that builds nests of mud

For Unicef I think there were four people off and five on. For Qingdao it was four off and three on. Josh, Skipper of Ha Long Bay, told me he had about eleven new people joining. I’m sure that could have a bigger impact on how well they do compared to the overall weight. Although Ha Long Bay, at the time of writing, are up near the front and Bermuda and Dare To Lead further back. It’s not an exact science. Do I hear you ask who’s at the front? Well, let’s hope it’s not a repeat of race 1 as Unicef and Qingdao are leading. Will the famous wind hole caused by Table Mountain be their undoing? I hope they’ve got evasive action planned this time, I’m not sure I could bear the stress of it happening again.

Another local bird

The race started from Punta del Este on Wednesday 23rd October and the arrival window into Cape Town is two and a half weeks later, Thursday 7th to Monday 11th November. I’ve taken a bit of a gamble and am arriving on the morning of 7th so I hope Qingdao don’t repeat themselves and arrive early. It’s not looking likely, current ETAs (1400 UTC 5th November) are from Saturday morning to Monday morning.

The famous “La Mano” sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal

The results for the Scoring Gate are in Post 55 so I won’t repeat them. Before the Ocean Sprint, Seattle went into Stealth Mode, although it didn’t gain them any places. Imagine Your Korea went into Stealth Mode during the Ocean Sprint and came out in fourth place. As I can’t remember where they were before I don’t know if they’ve improved their position. Unicef and Punta both in Stealth on Tuesday night / Wednesday.

Accordionist at the prize giving

Qingdao have been constantly in Stealth Mode due to the fact that their tracker is playing up, so we’re never sure where they are at any given moment. You can play with the “ruler tool” if you’re looking at Race Viewer on a computer (not on a phone, I don’t know about tablets, in my world they are things you swallow to make you feel better). This will help you guesstimate where the boats are and is fun (well, what passes for fun to me, sad I know).

The “catamaran” from which we saw the fleet leave

I have not spent all my time on the Clipper website and Race Viewer, but one last mention of the Unicef skipper’s report today, read it and shiver! https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race3-day14-team48

Part of the packing

I have ended up with two incredibly heavy cases this time, as not only do I have John’s warm fleecy sleeping bag layer but also a sleeping bag from Sophie, another Unicef crew member, who got off at Punta and is getting back on at Cape Town after doing a safari. And also 23 (I think) Qingdao tee shirts for someone so we can save postage! Then there’s the usual bits and pieces for both John and George, John’s “civilian” clothes and somewhere in all this, my stuff. I started to pack on Monday, I thought I’d finished early on Wednesday then realised yet again I’d not got my bathroom cosmetics and toiletries. They are usually what I forget until the last minute, and of course they can’t go in hand luggage. I’m glad I’ve not got contact lenses any more, the stuff for them took up far too much room.

By the time you read this I’ll be on my way, probably sitting at Heathrow waiting for the flight to take off. I’ve checked Race Viewer, read all the Skipper Reports, tidied the flat, checked Race Viewer, read all the Facebook and WhatsApp messages, had an odd meal of all the food that won’t keep during my absence, checked Race Viewer, sorted out what I’m planning to do for Seattle in APRIL and so on. Now to check that I’ve not forgotten anything vital (phone charged? Rands? Passport?) and head off. Not in the vehicle below, it didn’t look like it had moved for ages, judging by the tyres.

Garzon truck outside PdE Yacht Club

Next time, greetings from Cape Town and possibly race 3 results!