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Day 92

By Brian Hancock

OK let’s just come out and say this flat, plain and simple. The McIntyre Ocean Globe Race is an awesome event. I did write about the great Sir Peter Blake a while ago, but when two of his (former) yachts got off the stick (nautical term) to go out to greet the winner (chicken dinner) of Leg 2, as in Translated 9, it’s pretty bloody awesome. Translated 9 nailed it and Lion New Zealand and Steinlager were both out there to show their respect. What a tribute and what a leg sailed by the Italian team, salami throwing and all.

Translated 9 crossed the finish line in Auckland harbour heeled over and rocking along, the crew fully decked out in yellow foul weather gear. You/they/we could not have planned it better. Sometimes boats arrive in the dead of night and there are barely a handful of people to greet them on the dock. Just wives and girlfriends, hopefully not together if you know what I mean – I have had that happen – no names mentioned – Simone. (My great friend Kels who is in charge of the Maiden stopover in Auckland and a few others will understand). However I digress.

Translated 9 arrived during the day, but even though it was overcast, it was still beautiful and it being summer in New Zealand, the southwesterly was blowing (pomping as we say in South Africa). They came into Auckland harbour looking strong and going fast. What a sight. There are videos and photos on the OGR FB page. Watch them and celebrate this great win for the Italians. I hope that they are well into a couple of cold ones and the warm hospitality that only New Zealand can offer sailors that come to their shores after crossing the Southern Ocean. Well any ocean, for that matter.

As I write this, in the dark on my cozy couch, Pen Duick is just four miles from the finish with Spirit of Helsinki just ten miles behind, or should I say astern. This may not get posted until they are safely tied to the dock because the OGR team in New Zealand are hard at it. The one thing I love about this race is that they are always out there. Don (our fearless leader) and Aida (our other fearless leader and of course Jane, Don’s wife, who without her there would not be an OGR). They will all be out there for every boat’s arrival. So much compassion and respect for all of the sailors in this great around-the-world-race.

I will change course slightly but I have a point to make. My first Whitbread Round the World Race was aboard a boat that was built at Huisman Shipyard in Holland. It’s now one on the most celebrated shipyards in the world. We arrived back at the finish in England. This was in ’82. The late, great Wolter Huisman was on the dock ready to take our lines. Me, at the tender age of 23, was clever enough to talk to him and I asked why he was there. He said, “it’s like watching my babies come home.” No wonder they are one of the most famous boat builders ever. For Don and the OGR team it’s like watching their babies come home. It’s a bloody long way across the Southern Ocean.

However, there are still boats out there racing, and some have a long, long way to go. The mighty team on Maiden are about to get a great first look at land after weeks at sea as they round Cape Reinga. A little further behind them is Triana who are leading the Adventure Class. They are smoking along at just under 10 knots. That’s a good speed for an old lady. (Don’t shoot me, it’s just a saying). They have L’Esprit d’équipe to port doing equally well while Neptune and Evrika are also trucking along with a strong southwesterly wind pushing them toward the finish.

I will come back to Sterna and Explorer in a bit, but let me tell you this. Arriving in Cape Town is one thing because of that spectacular mountain. Arriving in Auckland is more special because of the people. The Kiwis live, breath and die by sailing. Now I am almost (kind of) sorry (not) that we beat them at the Rugby World Cup, but I digress. That country lives for their own sailors and for sailors that arrive on their shores.

Sterna and Explorer are both going great. They are diving south looking for stronger westerlies, or maybe Santa’s helpers. Stranger things have happened in the Southern Ocean. Good luck to all in the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race. I have to go now – I forgot to unreef the cat.

Don’s Daily Tracker Update

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