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Day 85

By Brian Hancock

My Dad always said, “if you can’t sleep through your roommate’s snoring, you are not tired enough”. I know this to be true because I have sailed with some weirdly wonderful roommates (crew mates) and most of them snored. That’s the life of an around-the-world sailor. I’m guessing that for most of the McIntyre OGR fleet they are probably sleeping just fine. There is wind and weather in spades, and there is some serious yacht racing going on, so snoring be damned, it’s the least of their problems.

Let’s start at the back of the pack with Sterna and Explorer – not their fault by the way – they had to divert to make sure that their boats were seaworthy for a Southern Ocean leg (a very smart move in my most humble of opinions). They are enjoying some boisterous sailing in fairly strong northerly winds.

The gang in the middle also have good winds from astern. Triana, skippered by Jean d’Arthuys is still leading the Adventure Class while Evrika, skippered by Dominique Dubois is leading the Sayula Class with both boats sailing in pretty much the same conditions.

Moving forward it’s going to get interesting. I still have my money on Translated 9. They are dodging a small high pressure system that will be giving beach goers in Hobart a nice suntan and they may just ride the wave up the Tasman Sea, but again, and I have sailed those waters, it can turn to cr*p with the spin of a hat.

I am going to move away from crazy old men (I count myself among them), wild dogs and a skinned kangaroo stuck in a fridge, to pay tribute to the late, great Sir Peter Blake who died on this day 22 years ago. Blakey, as he was known to his friends, and I counted myself among them, coined many terms but the one I loved was that he said, “sometimes you were in the ‘green room'”. That was when a half ocean of water came cascading down the deck and the poor crew were in the green room trying to breath while still trying to trim the spinnaker at the same time.

Blakey did the very first Whitbread Round the World Race in ’73/74 (back when the earth was flat) on board Burton Cutter. He went on to do four more Whitbreads finally winning in an impressive fashion (by winning each and every leg by a convincing margin) aboard Steinlager 2, a massive ketch designed by the legendary Kiwi naval architect Bruce Farr.

Peter had some bum luck along the way especially in the ’81/82 race. His break-out boat, Ceramco, was dismasted on the first leg from England to Cape Town, and this was back in the time when the race was scored on time only; not points. They rigged a jury mast and stepped it on the cutting board from the kitchen. True story, and they rolled into Cape Town just fine. The legendary chef “Vonny” (Paul) von Zalinsk, suggested that he might not need his cutting board after all. But I digress.

Blakey went on to fame (if not fortune) and led an environmental movement that was in part to draw attention to the loss of the Amazon forests as well as climate change, long before climate change was a buzz word. His yacht Seamaster was anchored off Macapá, Brazil, at the mouth of the Amazon delta when pirates came on board. Blakey did what (I guess) we would all do and went for his gun, but they gunned him down first and that day we lost a sailing legend. Did I mention that he also led a team that won The America’s Cup and also won the Jules Verne trophy for the fastest non-stop circumnavigation?

Here is another great quote from him and it sums up the OGR. “You will probably be frightened at times, scared, worried. You’ll hate it despite the fact that you are involved and when you get to the finish, you know why, because there is nothing like it. It gets in the blood and you can’t get rid of it”.

His wife Pippa was in Southampton for the start of the OGR as was fellow team mate on many of his travels, Simon Gundry, who gave a very moving tribute to Sir Peter. By the way, I cry easily, and this time the front of my shirt was soaked. RIP Blakey. Spend some time in the Green Room just for old times sake, but just make sure that you tip the water out of your boots before climbing into your wet bunk. Your legacy remains.

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