By Brian Hancock
They are all in safe and sound and that for any race organiser (organizer) is a massive relief. It’s one thing to come up with an idea, and this was a good one, but there is a heck of responsibility that comes with it. (I know I co-founded an around-the-world race. A great one too by the way). These crews have to make it safely back to land after each leg and there are some pitfalls along the way. So far so good and hats off to Don and Jane and Jac and Aida and Georgie and all of the wonderful people that have made this event an awesome success. (I have probably forgotten some – sorry). And to all the sailors who signed up for this great adventure. It’s good to know that the world is still round and not flat. We need people like you out there to keep checking that it’s a globe and not a pumpkin pie.
There is a lot to do for all the crews in Auckland; the next leg is going to be the toughest one. They need to make sure that they have their big girl and big boy pants packed. It’s going to get messy. It’s also too far out to predict the wind but I know that there is going to be some wind as well as some ice, snow and a whole lot more. Oh, and some waves. I knew that there was more. Almost forgot the waves (ADHD).
Now the question is, how do I slide from this into skydiving without losing anyone who reads my drivel. Oh, I know, you just need to bring in an Italian. Not just any Italian but one of the greats; Simone Bianchetti. Simone had done I think two solo circumnavigations and was on his third when I was working with him. Great guy.
I gave a talk at a black tie dinner with the great Sir Robin Knox Johnston and mentioned the lesbian skydiver. It was just a funny anecdote but Simone came to me afterwards and asked if would go with him the next day and jump. He said, “I pay.” That was enough for a cheap South African to jump out of a fairly decent plane even if the pilot was wearing flip flops, but there you go. A paid for jump is a paid for jump so I went for it.
We were driving to the airport when Simone said, now remember that he is/was a devout chauvinist (more on that later). He said, “is she really a lesbian?” How do you answer that? I said, “yes she told me that she was a lesbian.” Now Simone, without a moment’s hesitation, said, “how long is the jump?”.
I said, “I think that it was about four minutes freefall then about a minute after the parachute opens, if it opens which will be the good part”. I loved him for how he answered. He said, “that’s enough time. I will change her mind.”
He jumped first. They landed with a bit of a slide but all safe and sound. My turn was next. This time I was a little scared, probably because the Jameson’s had worn off. I asked Viv, “did Simone talk to you?” Now you have to love Viv. She replied, “no, why do you ask. He was so sh*it scared on the way up and they way down he didn’t say anything.” As my mate Don would say, “Life hey.”
To all those crews scrambling to stock and refuel and dust and do the dishes, your time in that beautiful City of Sails is coming to an end. Leg 3 starts on Jan 14.