"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Friday, 24 April 2015

leg 8 race 3: den helder to london

frigate is one end of the start line

once we had negotiated the canal and lock, and made it out to sea it was main up and head to the start line. a beautiful sunny day in den helder with loads of folk out on the water to see us off. 

we thought we'd been set up for a great start, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. as the gun went off, we were pointing the wrong way without enough sail up. we'd been waiting to hoist the code 1 but needed to quickly hoist the staysail so we could turn towards the start line! dammit. everyone crossed in front of us with a mix of code 1 and code 2  flying. we managed to turn the boat and get across the line. dropped the staysail and threw the code 1 up. at this point, sophie and the sail repair team had already fixed our code 1 twice after it had exploded. 

it looked like the code 2 gang had made a mistake as we flew up the outside of the fleet. they'd managed to get tangled up in each other and we were clear! so from an awful start we ended up working our way through the fleet. we were sitting in 4th, looking to overtake the 3rd placed boat when our code 1 gave way for what would be the final time. 

all the repairs seemed to give way at once as the wind built, but luckily the entire crew were on deck. we split into teams: a couple of folk to go and push the code 2 up through the hatch, a group to retrieve the body of the code 1 out of the water, a couple of folk to gently pull the tape and retrieve the head from the top of the rig while someone else eased the halyard. we got the code 2 up on deck and the bag attached, pulled out the three ends and started running them while the code 1 was unceremoniously stuffed down the hatch to be dealt with later. sheets were re-run, halyard and tack attached, then within 8 minutes the code 2 was up and being trimmed. 

during all this, matt had calmly helmed. we had enough experience now to not need telling what had to be done. shortly after the code 2 was up, rich gould from invest africa radioed through to give matt his congratulations on a speedy recovery. matt admitted that he hadn't done anything, just driven! 

the code 1 was just rammed into its bag and stuffed back in its bunk. we weren't going to be needing it again after all... and we'd only lost 1 or 2 places! awesome.

our good fortune was not to last however. somehow we'd managed to miss a mark of the course, so we had to return to it, losing valuable distance to the rest of the fleet. bloody typical. even in the last race, we were having no luck.

the final race to southend only took a day and a half, with the last bit being a short course between two marks so we did get to see the rest of the fleet as they passed us going in the opposite direction. eventually we got the call to finish and everyone headed to the line at southend pier. 

there were mixed emotions as we crossed the line. anger at losing out on the final race. an overwhelming feeling of sadness that our year had just come to an end. there was celebrating and hugs, but there was also a quiet mood among the round the worlders and multiple leggers. at one point matt asked if anyone wanted to steal the boat and do it all again. 

out of the gloom in southend, we appear! and finish the race!!

happy to be nearly home :D

we put the boat to bed for the final time in the race and started slowly motoring around to wait for 7am so we could form up and parade into london. everyone was thinking about how they would deal with the homecoming. I was worried I'd be a total mess and just cry openly!

but first of all, sleep! and a bit of overnight motoring and banter. the last time the fleet would be this close but still at sea.

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