By Brian Hancock
We are now two weeks into Leg 3 of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race and the fleet is almost halfway between Auckland and Cape Horn. For those up front (in line honours) they will be needing to start planning their strategy on how to round that most famous of all capes. Except, of course, Superman’s cape… ☺️.
There is a waypoint that the boats have to honour by leaving it to starboard (that keeps them out of the most of the ice) and that’s why you see the fleet bunching up (nautical term…☺️). By the way Don McIntyre, the founder of this event, does an excellent daily update explaining weather and all that good stuff and it’s really great. My job (for what it’s worth) is to tell a story and to give you a broader sense of what this race is about, the history and such, and a few anecdotes from my misspent youth.
I see on the Yellow Brick Tracker that most of the fleet are sailing below the rhumb line but there are some witches ahead. I have known a few witches in my time (and I am not talking about my ex-wives… ☺️). I do, afterall, live just a few blocks from Salem (Massachusetts) where the tragic witch trials were held back between February 1692 and May 1693 (thanks Wiki – I was not alive back then) when they burned witches at the stake and many, many people came out to watch. A bit like a rugby match in Uruguay, I guess.
The thing I know about witches is that you need to get on the right side of them otherwise they will cast a spell. In the case of these Southern Ocean witches that have been spun off from the high pressure system in Antarctica, you need to grab the back of their broomsticks and hold on for the ride of your life.
There is a fairly intense low pressure system just ahead of the leaders. They are well positioned to take advantage of some strong westerly winds and Windy (no, not my uncle) shows rather intense weather closer to Cape Horn, but things can change (and probably will) by the time that the fleets get there. Maiden is on the edge of the strong southwesterlies, Spirit of Helsinki too. Triana, with Captain Jean d’Arthuys is leading his crew into rougher waters, and leading in the Adventure Class. They are into the 50s and will soon find a witches broomstick to ride. Galiana WithSecure with the great Tapio using his whip to get his crew to get on with the job. They are diving south and are also into the 50s. Looks like a fairly decent Sunday out on the water.
Oh, and I have not forgotten those pesky South Africans on Sterna. If I know them they probably have their braai (BBQ) out strapped to the pushpit and are cooking up a good Sunday lunch to go along with their cold Castle Lager. And if I know them they are probably wearing flip-flops. Explorer is still exploring their best options and the outlaws on Outlaw probably have a few shrimp on the barbie to celebrate; well actually if you are from Australia, you don’t need a reason to hit the barbie (not the movie). Every day is a celebration and I am sure that they are living life to its fullest.
Now I have a side story for you and if my side stories bore you, scroll on by and watch Judge Judy on TV. My son Tom, who was a guest of Tracy Edwards for the start in Southampton, was at an art show in London the other day. He’s a superb artist by the way, but I digress and I am biased. He saw this dude in the corner hanging out by himself in a pretty threadbare sweater (jersey for all the rest of us) so he went over to talk to him. The guy introduced himself as Bob and they chatted about sailing (Bob had done some sailing). Then Tom started to show off a little and told Bob that his dad (me) had sailed the Whitbread with Simon Le Bon. That got Bob’s attention but he wasn’t too impressed. After about 45 minutes Bob left. The owner of the art studio came over and said to Tom, “Do you know who that was that you were talking to?” Tom just shrugged. “He said his name was Bob.” The owner said, “that’s Bob Geldof.” For those too young or too old Google him (The Boomtown Rats and the founder of Live Aid). No wonder he wasn’t impressed that Tom’s Dad had sailed with Simon Le Bon.
Well happy Sunday to all the courageous sailors in the Ocean Globe Race. Stay safe and sail fast.
“We are lying in the palm of your hand.” Thank you again Simon Le Bon for that lyric. It’s just brilliant.