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Day 172

By Brian Hancock

Leg 3 of the McIntyre Ocean Globe race is finally wrapped up with a red bow as the Italian team of Translated 9 sailed in great style into Punta del Este, spinnaker flying and full main and mizzen. It was a relief for them to get there. There is a four day window before the start of Leg 4 and it’s a race requirement that the boats get into port with at least four days to spare, and they made it. That, however, is the good news. They discovered that their transmission had crapped out and there was no way that they could, or would start Leg 4 without a working engine. As co-skipper Marco Trombetti put it, “what if we lost someone overboard and had no engine to recover the person. We have to have a working engine before we start.”

Easier said than done. No transmission could be found either in Uruguay or Argentina. It’s not like stores have them hanging around on the shelves. So that presented another challenge for the team. Luckily Marco Trombetti has some contacts; in Italy. He contacted an old friend who found the exact transmission they needed. Problem being, the transmission was in Italy and the boat is in Uruguay. “Nessun problema,” as they say in Italian. “That’s why they invented the airplane.” The transmission has arrived in Uruguay. This speaks to the dedication and the determination needed to get a boat around the world.

Translated 9 is now in the port town of Piriapolis 20 miles west of Punta. They are going to haul the boat to check the repairs done in the Falklands and, of course, to install the new transmission. It needs to be a quick turnaround because Leg 4 starts Tuesday, March 5.

So funny story, as I digress (yet again). In 1984 I got a fax (remember those?) from a man by the name of Gustavo Vanzini. He was the skipper of the maxi yacht Uruguay Natural and he was looking for a quote for all new sails. I was a sailmaker (still am). I bring this up because the crew of Uruguay Natural have been included in the celebrations in Punta. I worked up a quote, which was no small amount of money for a brand new inventory of sails, and Gustavo invited me to come to Montevideo to convince him why he should choose me as their sailmaker.

Long story short; I flew to Montevideo. Now I had already spent quite a bit of time in that beautiful city and when I arrived at the airport Gustavo was there to greet me with my name on a piece of cardboard just like he was my limo driver. We got into his small car and he asked me a question that would change my life. He said, “Do you want to go to the office to talk about your quote or do you want to go to the Mercado del Puerto to get some lunch?” Now I have spent quite a bit of time at the Mercado del Puerto. It’s a sprawling market place on the waterfront in Montevideo that is absolutely awesome. The farmers come in around five in the morning to display their produce and by eight they are belly up to the bar eating eggs with blood sausage and drinking red wine. My kind of place. I answered, “lunch.” I got the order.

Once the boats got to Cape Town I was friendly enough to ask Gustavo why he gave me the order. He looked thoughtful and said, “we had every top sailmaker come to see us. I asked them the same question and they all said that they wanted to go to the office to discuss their quote. You were the only one that chose lunch. I knew that I could trust you so I gave you the order.” Life Hey?

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