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Brian’s Last Update

It was a sparkling late summer afternoon in Rome when a line was drawn under the 2023/2024 edition of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race. It’s over and now it’s time to set sights on the next one. What started on a damp day off Cowes in September last year ends with a bow to wrap it up and congratulations to all the crew, those that sailed the entire course and those that did some of it. The point is that you signed up for an adventure and you got it.

The prize giving was held on one of the properties owned by Translated and it could hardly have been a more fitting place for a prize giving. A swimming pool, a forest and a group of sailors most of whom can now call themselves circumnavigators. For those that went the full distance it must seem a little surreal to see their fellow crew mates dressed and scrubbed and swirling champagne. For the past nine months it has been wet, smelly clothes, not much opportunity to wash and that ubiquitous lurgy shared by most offshore sailors; gunwale bum, the rash of pimples and boils that come with weeks of sitting in a salty puddle of water taking waves in the face and eating meals that could have included at least one roast beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding.

The stars of the show were the maidens on Maiden who won the inaugural OGR. They sailed a clever tactical race right up until the last few miles when they snatched victory from Spirit of Helsinki. I guess that it’s one thing to congratulate Maiden and her crew, but let’s not forget that all the sailors are winners who will now be able to enjoy a lifetime of memories, some good, some, well, not so good but that’s the nature of offshore ocean racing.

Let me sign out and leave you with one parting thought. The race organisers, Don, Jane and the rest did a superb job from concept to completion. They very cleverly space the OGR four years apart. Once you cross the finish line many of the crew say never again, that once is enough. The mind, however, is a funny thing. After a year you start to forget the cold, wet misery. After two years you only remember the fun and exciting times like the time you saw that pod of dolphins playing in your bow wave or when a single whale breached just metres from your boat putting on a show just for you. None of the sailors will forget the spectacular sunsets that drop squawking and spluttering into the ocean. There is nothing quite like a sunrise or sunset on the open ocean. After three years you forget all the hardship (and joy) and start planning the next race. All it takes is one phone call and you drag out your worn and faded foul weather gear and start planning. That is one of the pure pleasures of racing around the world.


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