Sydney baby!

And we’ve made it the 2,300 miles to Sydney.

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It was with huge and mixed emotion that we passed through The Heads and into Sydney harbour in the early hours of yesterday morning. Delighted that we’d made it in one-ish piece (our sails and Vin may beg to differ) and yet hugely disappointed with fourth place. It’s funny because if you’d offered me 4th place 13 days ago I would have bitten your hand off. 13 days is a long time at sea and we’ve been teased and tormented on every one of those days.

What a race! We had everything thrown at us and more. The expected and the very unexpected. The weather was relentless. Seeing the competition up close and personal was motivating. You can also see my office on a relatively calm day…

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For me the greatest challenge going into the race was taking on the responsibility of the wildest (and most dangerous) seat in the house, bow 1.  Bizarrely for an ultra competitive person I leave this race not thinking about position, or disappointment but with a sense of huge pride in myself. And that’s a bit of an alien emotion. Little old me did it! I suffered the waves, the wind, the fear, the bruises and have come away smiling. I have learnt far more from that than crossing the line in a better or worse position. Something I never thought I’d say.

I also have enormous pride in Janine and Tim. They came to the bow team of port watch as new leggers, new sailors and certainly without ocean racing under their belt. We had no choice but to form a coherent and effective team and that’s exactly what we did for the duration. Yes we made mistakes but we were also awesome! Nicholas completed the team and I/we couldn’t have done this without him even though at our watch brief he said he wanted to spend as little time on the bow as possible. Amazing.

A few things have caused me much amusement. When I put them on paper I realise that perhaps the sleep deprivation  is playing a big part in that. Others that caused much frustration.

Bruises. You’ll have to excuse the crude photo but you’ll have some sense for why there is a preference to work quickly in the pulpit. Each of of those is a wave that I remember well.

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Shouting. I got down to the pub late yesterday as I had the usual saga of detangling the mop. Kyro bounced over to say that there was only one occasion where the others had said I’d lost it. I personally think that’s pretty good going but clearly it caused much amusement over a couple of beers. The moment when they realised that I’m not all sweetness. Amazed it took them so long. A little fearful because that moment was caught on camera and is likely to be aired as part of the Clipper TV series around the world.

The christmas decorations. I think it was the 5th December when port watch took a funny turn. It was the day we found out that Greg had armed the boat with tinsel and a Santa hat. One of the key lessons I’ve been taught is never to go anywhere on the boat without my leatherman and electrical tape. The tinsel put that to good use and Greg and I scrambled about tarting up the boat as the watch choir sung carols horrendously. Still, the tinsel outlasted any sail in 50kts albeit the backstays now have rust on them and the helm pockets have turned purple. Sadly the advent calendar didn’t fair so well but I’m not being defeatist. I simply have to manhandle several pieces of soggy card and foil wrapped chocolates or eat the lot today.

Then there was the moment I had to talk myself out of combustion. Day 2, it’s REALLY wet and I reach for my dry suit. I couldn’t believe it. Someone must have used my dry suit to break their fall and had pulled the blunt corner of a hanger through my rubber neck seal. With the dry suit rendered useless for the trip I had to suffer and being the person most likely to need to use their dry suit in anger it was beyond frustrating. The person never owned up, apologised or tried to make a mends. Not even when Gavin and I were near hypothermic. That said Kat was lovely with her offer of a loan. Unfortunately for me Kat has the gift of height.

Then there’s the people thing. In previous legs Odeon had funnelled my frustrations. With his departure others came to the fore. Starfish this time sent me into all sorts of wild head spirals. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when you don’t see eye to eye in a confined space and where there’s no brick wall to bang your head against. Starfish remains on the race and so I will have to find a coping mechanism. Sometimes that’s a sharing of frustrations (valid or otherwise) with Vin. Sadly Vin snapped her finger pulling down a sail a few days ago so I will have to find an alternative rock as she’s unable to participate in her Sydney Hobart dream. I am willing for her to have a quick and seamless recovery and I will selfishly miss her enormously.

And I’ve just heard Odeon is back. We won’t be on the same watch so my hope is that we can at least see eye to eye for the last two races I’m doing. To be fair I have to take my hat off to him because he did congratulate me on my bow efforts yesterday when he really needn’t have done. Maybe a fresh start for both of us? I will do my best.

Today ended with the skipper one to one debrief. A recognition of the watch imbalance, the effort I applied, the learning curve I’ve been on and requested that I help the cockpit to help the bow. With better preparation the hope is to cut down the amount of time we lay as wave prey on the foredeck.

Anyway, I’m off to buy an iPhone charger. Mine has corroded. I shall also pick up a hard drive so that I can share with you some of the impressive footage we have of ocean racing.

Next stop Hobart…

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Xxxx
Sydney baby!

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