By Brian Hancock
Explorer sailed into Auckland just how an elegant lady would waltz into a fancy dress ball. Spinnaker up and all the crew in matching uniforms. Such a pleasure to watch them make their grand entrance. The boat looked excellent. I am not putting words in Captain Coconut’s thoughts but, since I know him a little, I think that he and his team were just getting their money’s worth out of Leg 2 of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race by staying out there for so long.
Now, they did have to return to Cape Town with some rigging issues which delayed them, but the most important thing was for them to be safe for a Southern Ocean crossing. As they say in sailing, “you can’t win if you don’t finish.” Actually I just made that up, but it’s true.
Let’s not forget that the youngest crew member in the race, Ryder Ellis, is from New Zealand and his parents are lifelong members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and will be there there to greet the team, and their son, who is now older than he was when they last saw him, but I guess that’s how it goes for all of us creatures living on this beautiful blue planet. One day at a time.
It’s Sterna next. They are piddling along (technical term) at a fairly decent 7 knots. Melissa du Toit has done a masterful job of bringing her crew safely across one of one of the toughest stretches of water on the planet. They too had to stop for repairs which accounts for them getting into Auckland behind the other boats but again, let me repeat my saying (kind of like it) “you can’t win if you don’t finish.” At last check Sterna were just 25 miles out from the finish (YB tracker) and by time that you read this they should across that magical line off the RNZ Yacht Squadron and all the babies will be home to roost, and eat, and perhaps share a glass of Steinlager before the January 14th restart.
Meanwhile, since we are in a little bit of a lull; Part 4. So my most beautiful wife is a bit younger than me. Well she’s not that much younger; she just looks a whole lot younger. A couple of days before Simon Le Bon flew out to join us in New Zealand he gave a concert at West Virginia University, where my wife went to school. She and her friends camped out to get tickets (long before Ticketmaster). She loved the concert. So when I heard that Duran Duran were coming to Boston a couple of years ago I emailed Simon and asked about some backstage passes. His assistant got right back to me and she made the mistake of asking, “how many?” I said “would 12 be too many?”.
Sally, my wife, invited her friends who had all been, at some point in time, married to various Duran Duran band members (in their minds of course) and we went backstage. It was all kind of fun. First of all there was a secret password to get into the backstage area but once we got in there was free champagne and snacks. Now I was worried. It had been 30 plus years since I had last seen Simon and I had grown a little older. I checked online and he pretty much looked the same as he did in ’86. I was worried that he would not recognise me. Turns out a publicist and air brushing can make a world of difference. He recognised me and it turns out that old rockers age just as bad as old sailors do… .
Thank you for all who commented on my step-son Brendon. Each time I write his name my eyes well up. Fu*ck drugs.