Monday, 30 September 2013

Leaving Brest

The disappointment of Race 1 has been put behind us as has the sense of injustice when the race was cut short at only 3 hours notice leaving our strategy well and truly scuppered. After a few days rest up in Brest and more repairs to the boats we are ready to set off on the first ocean crossing of the race, all 4,800 miles to Rio de Janeiro.

There is the same ceremony of departure at Brest although much lower key which is fitting for a more serious moment for all of the crews.  We are led, team by team, on the long walk from our boat to the presentation area where there are brief interviews, playing of the team song and the now customary ‘Bolts, for the photos. We then walk back past all the waiting crews who applaud, shake hands and high five.  There is a strange sense of camaraderie, as although we are competitors we are all sharing in the trepidation of our first
ocean crossing.  No-one can  really comprehend 24 days at sea in who knows what conditions and this binds us together in a common unspoken sense of companionship and concern.  It is quite moving, much more so than all the razamatazz of leaving London.

Before long lines have been slipped and we are outside Brest Harbour circling in formation for the cameras before heading further out to the start line where conditions are euphamistically described as ‘fruity’.  This is sailing shorthand for very bouncy, very wet and seasick inducing all of which are achieved in a short space of time.  But then we are off heading for the Bay of Biscay and beyond.  Jamaica rears up and then ploughs into the waves, her bowsprit driving forward like the lance of a medieval charger and then again and again.  I am working on the foredeck clipped on as it falls away beneath my knees until the deck is in the sea then up again. I imagined this before we left and so it is exciting to be actually experiencing it, but it is more severe than I had thought.  It is like being power hosed from every angle and even our high tech foulies can’t keep us dry. This goes on for several days at which point around half the crew are suffering from seasickness to varying degrees.  As Skipper says if you don’t get seasick you haven’t been to sea enough.

And so we continue to race across the Bay of Biscay heading for Cape Finesterre where we will head south with hopefully following winds down the coast of Portugal and then on to Africa.

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