By Brian Hancock
I have always been a huge fan of Tracy Edwards, from that day in Punte del Este in ’85 when she told all of us (mostly men) that she was going to enter an all-female crew in the ’89/90 Whitbread, (I think that we pretty much just shrugged our shoulders) to the day that Maiden crossed the start line until the day that they crossed the finish line back in England. Tracy has been an inspiration and through no small amount of perspiration and desperation, she has managed to pull it off again. The all-female crew aboard Maiden in the OGR are doing her legacy proud.
I love that it’s a mixed race crew, not that it should matter, but it really takes it the next level and as they scramble to get ready for the toughest leg, the one that will take them around Cape Horn, I can only wish them all, especially skipper Heather Thomas a safe and amazing adventure. I am not sure if you know this but Heather didn’t grow up near the ocean, she grew up in West Yorkshire but there was definitely salt in her blood coming from a long line of mariners and she is leading her crew superbly. And the greatest maiden of all is Maiden and she still looks as splendid as ever and will hopefully take this great team around Cape Horn and into Punte del Este safely. And of course to the finish back in England.
It’s just three days until the restart out of Auckland. Time to scramble, time for the crews to get their heads around what lies ahead and what lies ahead can be deadly; not to be too specific about it, but there have been sailors lost overboard in those waters and while safety regulations have been very much tightened, anything can happen. One Leg 2 there were safety waypoints to keep the fleet up out of the worst of it, icebergs and all that stuff, but on Leg 3 there is no way around it; you have to dive south to get around Cape Horn otherwise you are going to hit solid land.
Meanwhile, since you asked, I have one last Simone Bianchetti story for you. He never did a Whitbread but that does not make him any less of a sailor. Quite the contrary. The race stopped in Salvador (Bahia) Brazil. We would go out for dinner most nights and when it came to pay the bill, Simone had already picked up the tab, tip and all. One night a friend of mine and I decided (cleverly) after a bottle of whiskey (each) that at 3-o-clock in the morning we would stop by Simone’s hotel room to say thank you.
We knocked on the door and could hear some kerfuffling (technical term) and finally Simone came to the door. He took one look at us and slammed the door in our face. For the next few days he was steaming in an Italian kind of way. After day 3 I finally got up the courage to talk to him. I said, “sorry Simone, if you had a hooker (or two) in there with you it’s none of my business.” He gave me the Italian glare and said, “I thought that you were the fkn Federales and I flushed $5,000 worth of cocaine down the toilet.”
Well there you go. On to new adventures. Cocaine free I hope.