By Brian Hancock
It’s all on in Auckland, the City of Sails as it’s known. I will come back to that part but first; Maiden will soon be hitting the dock, in a good way. The awesome team of all female sailors are just 23 miles out from the Viaduct Basin where many legendary sailors have tied up at the end of a long and harsh Southern Ocean crossing. They are storming in at a fairly decent 8.4 knots enjoying that southwesterly wind that brought in Translated 9, Pen Duick VI and Spirit of Helsinki across the finish line. All spectacular finishes. What a great race this is. Seriously. What a great race is this?
Looking back, and I don’t really like looking back but we must. Triana and L’Esprit d’équipe are rocking it toward Cape Reinga. I guess that they are rocking it because onboard photos show a strong (stiff – can I still use that word?) breeze from behind. It’s up the chuff as they might be talking about it at the bar at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. A superb yacht club by the way. Many a plan have been hatched there to win yacht races all over the world, including the Whitbread, Volvo Ocean Race and the big one, the America’s Cup. And blow me over with some faint praise, there must be something in the water there, they won most of them.
White Shadow is chunking (nautical term) along in the Tasman Sea with a fairly decent northerly wind which is probably getting the on-deck crew wet and keeping those below deck awake as the waves slam against the hull. Yes let’s not forget those down below off-watch. It’s as noisy as a firetruck heading for a 5-alarm fire on a Friday night. When I did these races way back in the wayback machine the Walkman had just been invented and we were able to drown out some of the sound. Mr. Bose and his noise cancelling headphones were not even in business but they would have helped. You get used to it. It’s a bit like sleeping next to your ex-wife who has a bad snoring problem; only times 10.
Meanwhile Triana, led by the mighty Jean d’Arthuys (why are French names so difficult? It’s not like their parents couldn’t be called the Jones’s or the Smiths – it’s a joke). Now I forgot what I was saying. Oh yes, Triana and L’Sprit d’équipe are in a tight race to see who will be first around that beautiful lighthouse on the northern tip of New Zealand. The wind is going to ease a little to help them have a safe rounding. Just watch out for those rocks and the moving sandbar. I am sure that they are keen to get to Auckland but it’s better to arrive in one piece.
I am not in Auckland but I bet that the three(some) – don’t shoot me. The first three boats are hanging out their wet foul weather gear and hosing the boat down and maybe, just maybe, enjoying a cold one. It’s all part of the adventure, and adventure is the essence of life; well that and a good bottle of Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand may or may not have wines as good as South Africa (sorry to my Kiwi friends but it just is so). But a thirsty sailor is a thirsty sailor and I know this from experience. Whitbread beer, back in the day was real plonk. But I digress – sorry.
Sterna and Explorer are enjoying a stiff northerly and both making good speed. I know for sure that they have sent their letters to Santa and I also know for sure, that Santa has read them (me and him are besties) and that Santa will find them when he needs to.
Take care all you sailors out there in the wonderful McIntyre Ocean Globe Race and stay safe and also remember that you signed up for this so have fun. Oh and I nearly forgot, Auckland is called the City of Sails because so many yachts stop there. It’s just that beautiful.
P.s. Maiden rocked and rolled across the finish line like a beast with a bone. Congratulations. You all deserve a hot shower and a cold… can of Red Bull.