By Brian Hancock
The funny thing about New Year is this. It comes in for most people at a different time and in a different place. The crew on Sterna and Explorer will get to celebrate long before me, and I don’t think that’s fair. I worked hard in 2023, well perhaps not as hard as they did. They are celebrating the good weather for sure. The have a nice wind up the chuff (as they say) and are making tracks toward Auckland. On the Yellow Brick Road tracker I see Explorer with Captain Coconut at the helm doing a very healthy 7.6 knots. You can make some progress across the Tasman Sea at that pace. Sterna, with Melissa du Toit in control, are flirting with the edge of a high pressure area sitting to their north and are staying to the south and avoiding the temptation to cut the corner. Good move in my opinion. By the way Sterna are going to park up in the next couple of days. The high pressure is going to slip south and eat them for breakfast. Meanwhile Explorer is going to get some strong northerlies just as they are trying to get north to go around the northern tip of New Zealand. Banker’s luck.
New Zealand will have already greeted in 2024. As I said it’s not fair. I have not even made my last 2023 lunch. The teams of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race that are already in Auckland will be well tucked up in their pyjamas after hitting the gym and drinking carrot juice (NOT). But for them it’s a time for celebration and reflection. They have sailed halfway around the world. 2024 holds a lot in store for all of them. The hard part is still ahead. There is that deep dip into the Southern Ocean to get around Cape Horn and then just when they think the worst might be over, the worst is just about to begin. The South Atlantic going north can be a bit like a first date; tricky and no idea if the outcome will be what you were looking for. But I digress.
Did you know that way up north where it’s colder than here where I am sitting writing this, (and it’s cold here) that there are two islands. There is Tomorrow Island which is part of Russia and Yesterday Island which is part of the good old USofA (where I live). They are just three miles apart but there’s a 21-hour time difference between them. This is because they sit on either side of the International Date Line which passes through the Pacific Ocean and marks the boundary between one calendar day and the next. Think of how many New Year’s eve parties you could have if you just had a fast enough boat to go back and forth (and a very, very warm coat).
Happy New Year to all the fans and followers of this great adventure. Thank you for following and encouraging these great sailors as they make sure that the world is actually a globe and not flat.