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Day 176

By Brian Hancock

Part 1

OK, today’s update will be in two stages. Pre start and post start. As I am writing this the fleet is leaving the dock in Punta del Este, chucking their lines ashore and heading out for the last leg of the McIntryre Ocean Globe Race. The leg to the big finish back in England. It’s a time of tears, and hugs and kisses. It’s no small undertaking to sail a small boat from Uruguay to England. There are potholes and pitfalls along the way as well as some days filled with bliss. The treacherous part of the race is behind them; the Southern Ocean, but this leg will pose its own challenges. It will be up to each team to manage whatever is thrown their way. They will all be caloried up by the great food of Uruguay and ready to take on the task ahead.

Meanwhile, and really the point of this update is that Translated 9 will be on the startline. The boat is spit and polished, the engine has a new transmission and the crew scrambled at the last minute to provision. This is good news but talk about cutting it close, but close is good enough. They are back in the game and ready for fire and ice. They won’t win this race because of being disqualified on Leg 3 for outside assistance, but I am betting that they will be giving Marie Tabarly and her crew on Pen Duick VI and Jussi Paavoseppä and his crew on on Spirit of Helsinki a good run for their money.

As we wait for the boats to get out to the start area I want to share with you (in case you missed it) some beautiful words by Najiba Noori, a crew member on Maiden. Not long ago she was forced to leave her home in Afghanistan because of the Taliban. Tracy Edwards sought her out to join the crew even though she had no sailing experience. She recorded a video to her younger self and a lot of what she said was so poignant. “Don’t let challenges get you down. They will only make you stronger. Remember to stay strong. Be kind to yourself. You deserve happiness so don’t doubt yourself. Believe in yourself.” Just beautiful and poignant. I am a writer but could not have said it better myself. That’s the spirit of the Ocean Globe Race, and the sailors who have signed up for this grand adventure. Now it’s time for Leg 4 and the long and winding road to the finish in Cowes.

Part 2

It was a lumpy start to Leg 4. Some leftover chop had the boats bobbing and weaving with most of the teams in full foul weather gear. There was a bit of water coming over the bow but nothing to write home about. Easy for me to say because I was in my easy chair watching it on my iPhone but I have taken more than my fair share of water in the face.

The start gun was fired from a Uruguayan warship (why does Uruguay even need a warship?). It’s too close to the start (as I write this) to figure out who is leading but I can tell you that Pen Duick and Translated 9 were out looking like they meant business. So did the rest of the fleet but these two boats were not mucking about (technical term) and were right there on the line as the gun fired.

People have asked me many times why it’s so important to hit the startline just as the gun goes when the leg is over a month long. It’s not about the few seconds of advantage that you can get, but more about psyching out your competitors. You hit the start running hard looking for business and you fellow competitors will have something to think about.

It looks like Maiden have squirted (another technical term) into an early lead. They have perfect conditions for the boat. A steady 10-15 knots up the chuff. I presume that they have all their sails up including a spinnaker and they have drawn their line in sand. They are not going to be messed with. Things, however, are going to change in the next few hours as the breeze swings to the southeast and lighten, and then, wouldn’t you know it, swing to the north and give them all some headwinds. It’s all good because the teams will need to find their sea legs again and this is a decent way to ease into a long passage.

As my friend Simon Le Bon (he of Duran Duran) wrote. “Gray Lady blow your ships back home.” Let’s hope that the Gray Lady is in a good mood for the next few weeks. Good luck to all sailors in this grand adventure. Sail safe and have fun.

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