70. Leg 5

I’ve not mentioned much about this Leg, over 6,000 nautical miles (nm), so here’s a brief rundown to keep you up to date (possibly). Contrast this with Unicef’s Leg 3 from Cape Town to Fremantle, with the detour to Durban, of around 7,000nm and five weeks at sea (as their alternative 12 Days of Christmas has it). Yet more Christmas music! I don’t think I’ve given you the link to John’s crew diary with all the words, you can find it in the list below, number 773. If you’re feeling brave you can listen to them “singing” on arrival into Fremantle last month here

Leg 5 (also known as The Asia-Pacific Challenge) consists of three races from Airlie Beach to Zhuhai: first to Sanya (Race 6, about 4100nm or roughly 3 weeks), to Subic Bay (Race 7, a short one of 750 nm taking 4 to 5 days) and then to Zhuhai (Race 7, an even shorter one of 650nm or 3 to 4 days). They (should have) started on 18th January but were delayed (see Post 69) and and have arrival windows of 10 to 15 February for Sanya, 25 to 26 February for Subic Bay and 2 to 3 March for Zhuhai. The first race involves going through The Doldrums (see Post 48 from September). As before, they are allowed to motor for a set amount of time due to the lack of wind, here it’s no more than 36 hours and 4 degrees latitude.

The yachts have between 14 crew (GoToBermuda) and 20 crew (Qingdao and Dare To Lead) on them, with the male:female ratio being close to 50:50 on Seattle and Punta del Este. Zhuhai lost skipper Nick in Airlie Beach and now have the first female Skipper, Wendy Tuck, who won the last Race in 2017/18 and will be with them until Qingdao. This is the fourth boat of the fleet to change skipper, with Seattle, Imagine Your Korea and WTC Logistics all having replacements along the way.

All lined up for Le Mans start

There are a few more crew diaries from OBB so in no particular order here they all are from the beginning in case you missed them, first George then John.

https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/206 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/381 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/545 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/637 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/776 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/955

https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/294 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/759 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/698 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/773 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/920

In George’s last crew diary he refers to an incident his dad had. I can reveal here that John, aged 70 and 8 months, was refused entry into a bar! He needed ID regardless of his age. The same will happen in the USA.

As you might have picked up by now, there’s not a lot going on. The delay due to the water maker spare parts not turning up was very worthwhile if you read the Skipper Reports and Crew Diaries for this race, with the heat and sweat being mentioned in almost every one. A more recent entry has been the rise of the coronavirus in China, with Clipper letting us know that the Sanya celebrations are going to be very muted this time. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/update-regarding-coronavirus-outbreak-in-china

I feel maybe I’m under a bit of a jinx (or Jonah?). First we had the Unicef diversion, then the bush fires, the Taal volcano in the Philippines on January 12th and the virus, first reported at the end of December and spreading rapidly. Will I get to China? Read on for the next thrilling instalment. OK, maybe thrilling is too strong a word.

12. Brief Encounters

I know, you’ve not been able to sleep wondering about the crew briefing last Saturday. I’m afraid that all was not revealed although we did have a good day. You can see the crowds on the header, there were 240 crew and 150 supporters in attendance at Lords Cricket Ground.

The first thing everyone involved in the race was to pick up their soft-shell Musto jackets. Here’s John looking very proud.

They all wore them with pride, we could see from the back who was who (apart from us poor souls).

We did not manage to meet Keith (see his blog prettymuchallatsea for lots of good details on sailing) but Heather found us, I think she went round with her phone looking at all the men to see if they matched the photo George had sent her (they were on level two together). I have to confess that I said “oh, that looks like our kitchen” rather than “oh that looks like John”. Heather’s blog is dreamitnowdoit and that’s exactly what she’s doing. For me it was great to meet a landlubber in the same (non) boat, being left behind whilst they go off around the world. Mind you, everyone I talked to said they preferred the sound of my adventure (turn left on plane and check into five star hotels with nice bathrooms) than the rough and tough of the boats.

Heather and Darren and John

Before we even arrived, John got into the mood by buying a magazine we’ve never tried before.

Article on Wendy Tuck

So what did we learn on the day? Everyone can expect to have an injury at some time during the race, with luck not serious but enough to keep the “medics” on board busy.  Now there’s only 7 months left we all need to start focussing. This means KNOTS: Sir Robin said he goes round at each port with a piece of rope, if you can’t tie the knot he asks for you’re on the plane back home! The crew will end up not just sailors but all-round seamen.

Regarding the actual race route, it’s still being formalised. It will be roughly the same as last time with a UK start.  The start date is probably mid-August to early September depending on the ports chosen. As soon as destinations are known it will be posted on the Clipper website.

Leg 1 will have two races to South America, potentially two stopovers in South America or one in Europe and one in South America. It will be the first equator crossing so anyone who’s not done it before can expect to be involved in a ceremony appeasing the Gods (don’t know why, maybe I’ll do a bit of research and get back to you on this).

Leg 2 is one race to South Africa, most likely stopping at Cape Town. Leg 3 is one race to Freemantle and Leg 4 one race to the East Coast, port not yet confirmed. The fleet will NOT join the Sydney-Hobart race on Boxing Day (December 26th) as they’ve done the last few times.

Leg 5 is probably three races, across the top of the Philippines to Sanya, a short fast race to another port with a pit-stop then a short sprint to Zhuhai where there will be a longer stop and crew change for the leggers. Leg 6 is two races, to Qingdao (short but tough) then over to the West Coast of the USA (port not yet finalised).

Leg 7 follows down the West Coast to Panama, where the race finishes and the fleet meet up for the Panama Canal transit. They then race up to an as-yet-unknown port on the US East Coast. Finally, leg 8 is back to the UK, possibly consisting of two or three races with all ports to be confirmed.

A bit of light relief before more details: even though I did not get a supporter’s jacket (may suggest they create these?) I did have some very appropriate earrings in my collection that I wore for the day.

Racing earrings!

Back to the race. The fleet is currently in Gosport being refitted. Each yacht needs about eight weeks to be fully fitted: everything is ripped out, checked, serviced or replaced as necessary. This will take until June, in time for the Level Four training (racing in the right boat with the correct crew and skipper to get used to each other).  There is no need for anti-fouling as a copper coating was put onto the boats previously and this works well: in earlier races, someone would have to dive under the boat to remove all the barnacles and seaweed and mermaids trapped there.

Once this is done, all that is needed is fuel, water, gas, food and the crew. Talking of which, you may have noticed that someone is missing.