By Brian Hancock
Let’s talk Tabarly, as in Marie Tabarly. I knew her Dad, not well, but here is an anecdote that I think will amuse, and will, more importantly shed some light on why his daughter is kicking ass in the McIntrye Ocean Globe Race.
As some of you might know, if not, that’s OK too, I sailed on the Soviet Union yacht Fazisi in the ’89/90 Whitbread around-the-world race. Now Fazisi was a little rough in the construction kind of way, as in it was mostly unfinished on the eve of the start of the first leg to Uruguay. Rough being an understatement. The crew were still bolting bits of hardware down when I got there less than a day before the start. Why I got there a day before the start is a story for another day.
I was down below sticking my feeble pile of clothes in a tiny hanging locker when there was a knock on the hull. It was the legendary Conny Van Rietschoten, the winner of the ’78 and the ’81 Whitbread. He asked if he could come on board to take a look. If you could only have seen his face when he stepped below decks. He was horrified at the state of things. For a start, there was no standing headroom on Fazisi, even for a short person like me. Connie just shook his head and left. I could hear him mumbling under his breath in Dutch and even though I speak Afrikaans, which is close to Dutch, I have no idea what he was saying, but I think that I know what he was thinking.
I was still trying to make sense of why the cook (another long story) had thought that it was a good idea to string a row of salamis right above my bunk when there was another knock on the hull. It was another legend; Eric Tabarly. I don’t think that he remembered me but I sure as heck knew how he was. He asked for permission to come on board. I nodded, of course, what was I going to say, no? He chucked his smoke into the water and climbed over the lifelines. When he went below his face lit up. “C’est bon, it’s good,” was all he said, and then he left. What a guy. I will come back to him but this is a post about the sailors in the OGR so I need to get back to business.
Pen Duick VI have taken their left hand turn toward Cape Town and I think that they have timed it well. Spirit of Helsinki is cooking with gas and are about to make their move. I look further north and see Translated 9 and Maiden enjoying some decent sailing. Sterna, White Shadow, Galiana WithSecure and Neptune (I wonder how they explained the name of their boat to the King when they crossed the equator) all seem to be working on their suntans, but then we have Outlaw and Evrika sniffing the coast of Africa in light headwinds. I feel their pain. Their foredecks must be dryer than a piece of Sunday toast on a Monday morning.
My wife appreciated her birthday lunch and the birthday wishes. More tomorrow. it’s still a long way to Cape Town.