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Day 174

By Brian Hancock

It’s another Sunday. In normal times it would be a time for a long leisurely breakfast, some coffee and maybe if the stars are aligned, some time back in bed to read the newspaper or…

This is not the case for the sailors in the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race. They are hustling and bustling getting ready for Tuesday’s start. Winches are back together, wenches have been sent home with a little spending money and it’s time to put the game face on. Leg 4 is coming up. It’s going to be a tricky one. They could get a boost up the butt (nautical term) or they could get hit by a spin off from the South Atlantic high and get headwinds. Now I have been married three times. I know how it is to mess with Mother Nature. You are going to lose no matter how good your argument is. Just take what you get and enjoy the ride.

I have no update on Translated 9. I presume that they are hard at it; boat hauled, new transmission being installed, and the start day closing in on them. Not much time for the odd espresso. They are a dedicated team ready to kick some butt on Leg 4. None of the other teams are sitting around, feet up with a beer in hand. This is crunch time. The last chance that they will be able to shine.

I know many have been following the Yellow Brick Road and even I was surprised to see that the French yacht Triana is winning the race. It’s all on a handicap system (IRC) and even though they are one of the smaller boats in the fleet, on handicap they are winning overall. Triana is a Swan 53 led by French media entrepreneur Jean d’Arthuys, who has had a busy career from television to vineyards. Vineyards are close to my heart so I am with the team. What an eclectic group of people have signed up for this great adventure and that’s what makes this a great adventure.

The thing about this is this. Sailing can be a bit of a crapshoot (truthfully). I have been to Las Vegas and played craps (what a terrible marketing campaign to come up with that name), however I digress. The point is this. Sometimes you come up trumps (can’t stand the man) and sometimes you don’t. The leaders may have already passed by that region already and the wind was different, but when you, on one of the smaller boats get there, it’s just plain sailing. “You do the best with what you got,” as my Mom used to say (by the way her name was Yvonne and she died 50 years ago and I still miss her), but I digress for about the hundredth time.

Leg 4 starts on Tuesday. It’s going to be great but until then I have a small anecdote to add. In yesterday’s update I mentioned my friend Phil Wade (Whitbread ‘85/86) who died a couple of weeks ago. I used to call him Will Fade because he always nodded off to sleep at dinner. We stopped in Brava, the most southern island in the Cape Verde chain. We had taken a few bags of Bics ball-point pens to trade and we did quite well, but what we really needed was diesel. We were out.

A young girl stepped up and gestured, ‘follow me’. We followed her up and up and up until we were in the clouds. After three hours we finally came to a small village. There was a welcoming party (how they knew that we were coming is beyond me) but we were invited to the chief’s house for lunch, which by the way was spectacular. There was some kind of boiled fish, boiled potatoes and a salad that had no recognisable bits in it. There was a lot of local wine served and after a mug or two we forgot why we were there. The Chief didn’t and he led us to his shed. He had a pump and filled our gerry cans with diesel. He wouldn’t take any money, not even a ballpoint pen, but Phil and me were getting a bit nervous. It was a long way back to the boat down a narrow path in the dark and we were both more than a little buzzed.

I, very cleverly I thought (at the time – no judgement here – we have all been there), asked if we could rent a donkey. The Chief just smiled and said, “my daughter will carry it for you.” And she did. Powered by a dim flashlight we made our way back to the boat. We offered to help but the answer was ‘no’. She said that she could do it and she did.

A couple of days later we sailed away from Brava with a full tank diesel and a lifetime of memories. That’s sailing for you. “Life Hey, “ as Don would say.


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