By Brian Hancock
There is a red rooster riding just to the south of the McIntyre Ocean Globe fleet. They must have read my advice; go south young sailors, and they are heading south and will soon hook up on the rooster’s tail. The red rooster means, and by the way I just made up that name (it’s not a nautical term) it means that they will get some breeze from behind plus a boost from the Agulhas current which could give them an extra two knots if they get it right, or if they just get lucky like most of us men hope for on a Saturday night… Remember, the boats no longer get live weather information like we do. With the wind kicking in now the real fun begins. If you have to feed the fishes I hope that you have already fed them.
Those Finns, on Spirit of Helsinki, and I love them, are rocketing into the lead again. Now this is an aside, but it’s a good one. I have spent a lot of time in Finland. They like their saunas, but well, how do I put this delicately, they like to… Well I will come back to that.
Godspeed is just a 66 miles from sniffing the barn in Cape Town. Just a 66 miles between where they are and a clean towel. And that beautiful mountain. They have a decent breeze and (for now) no potholes ahead. Go you veterans go and when you hit the docks enjoy your time on land. Make the most of it and keep enjoying this grand adventure.
But back to Spirit of Helsinki. They are three miles behind Pen Duick skippered by Marie Tabarly, daughter of the great Eric Tabarly. Both boats are rocking along at a tender 9 knots, a good day at work for any sailor. There is a pothole ahead for most of the fleet. Maiden is cooking along just 22 miles behind them and Outlaw is the outlaw diving deep south to hitch onto more breeze, while Triana, who are currently leading the Adventure Class are enjoying a similar breeze further to the north. Same with Le’Espirit d’Equipe who were, at last check on the Yellow Brick road, were doing over 10 knots, the fastest in the fleet. Not being unkind here but it looks like Neptune has gone AWOL. I have a story about that for a later update.
Back to Spirit of Helsinki. Sorry (ADHD) and saunas in Finland. Saunas are fun and fine but the part that I found a little off-putting was the whipping. Yes a sauna can be fun if you like to sit in a hot box with a half dozen old naked men but it was the whipping that was a little worrying. I was not worried about the jump into the ice cold water after the hot box, and sometimes the water was solid, if you know what I mean, but they have this kind of ‘fun’ tradition in Finland where they also whip you with young birch twigs which is used to be an integral part of sauna bathing. The idea is to beat the skin lightly with the whisk in order to stimulate blood circulation and to release the fresh and invigorating birch aroma. Ursula, or whatever her name was, didn’t really understand the fun of it and I got a bloody bollocking which was no fun and I think that I may still have scars, well on that area… I probably deserved the bollocking.
Now all of this might explain why Spirit of Helsinki might just win the second Leg of the OGR.