Race 1 turned out to be even more gripping to watch on Race Viewer than I had imagined, more so I suspect because of my own imminent involvement, but even guests at my brother’s wedding were hooked on it last weekend!
All eleven teams managed to experience pretty such everything in this first Race, from strong tidal conditions and light, if not very light winds in the Thames Estuary, strong upwind conditions for the first three days in the English Channel and then great downwind surfing conditions sailing down the Bay of Biscay. For those not used to ocean sailing then upwind sailing can be very tough – the boats are heeled over at 45 degrees and even moving around below decks takes great effort. It saps energy and even makes going to the heads (toilet), getting dressed, and getting in and out of your bunk tough, demanding evolutions. The downwind conditions in the Bay may well have flattened the Fleet off and produced a more even boat but with strong winds from astern the fleet screamed down the west coast of Portugal with boats frequently experiencing speeds in excess of 25 knots. At one stage the UNICEF team – pretty much EVERYONE apart from the Mother Watch preoparing meals – were gathered at the stern, behind the helm, to help balance the boat and keep the stern in the water and thus the boat under control. So much for time “off watch!”
Those following on Race Viwer will already know that Qingdao, Unicef and GoToBermuda jockeyed for the lead leaving the Channel and across the Bay of Biscay and for pretty much all of the scream down the Portuguese Coast. Unicef chose not to head for the Scoring Gate but the 3 Chinese boats, Qingdao, Visit Sanya and Zhuhai all did notching up 3, 2 and 1 points respectively, the first points of the 2019-2020 Race. Unicef were the first boat to cross both the start line and the finish line of the Ocean Sprint, with Qingdao hot on their heels but neither boat scored. Fastest across the Ocean Sprint was Punta del Este (15 hours, 2 minutes and 26 seconds), second fastest was Ha Long Bay Vietnam (15 hours, 51 minutes and 4 seconds) and third fastest Zhuhai (15 hours and 53 minutes), picking up 3, 2 and 1 point respectively. The highest reported yacht speed was logged at 29.7 knots onboard Ha Long Bay Vietnam.
In the closing stages of the race it was nip and tuck between Qingdao and Unicef but both were caught in very light wind conditions – it actually took Unicef almost 24 hours to complete the last 20 miles, and both boats were beaten into Portimao by Punta del Este and Dare to Lead, both of whom made best use of fickle wind conditions and, as the land cools off at night and the sea remains warm, a breeze can develop between the land and the sea that can probably go out a couple of miles. Punta del Este and Dare to Lead both proved that it is worth looking for! The relatively slow finish meant night-time arrival with Punta del Este finishing at 00:45 and 22 secs UTC on 9th Sept, one hour and 3 seconds ahead of Dare to Lead. Unicef finished 6th a little over 6 minutes behing Visit Sanya and mere minutes ahead of Imagine Your Korea finishing in 7th.
As someone in the Unicef team joked on social media, “We’re pretty good at Ocean Racing but need to improve on getting into port!”
The full arrival times were:
Punta del Este 00:45:22 Total points: 14 (11 for 1st and 3 for Ocean Sprint)
Dare to Lead 01:45:25 Total Points: 10
Qingdao ? Total Points: 12 (9 for 3rd and 3 for Scoring Gate)
Zhuhai 02:55:04 Total Points: 10 (8 for 4th and 1ea for OS and SG)
Visit Sanya 03:17:22 Total Points: 9 (7 for 5th and 2 for Scoring Gate)
Unicef 03: Total Points: 6
Imagine Your Korea 03:25:04 Total Points: 5
Ha Long Bay Vietnam 04:09:12 Total Points: 6 (4 for 8th and 2 for Ocean Sprint)
GoToBermuda 05:00:12 Total Points: 3
Seattle 11:48:50 Total Points: 2
WTC Logistics 13:38:03 Total Points: 1
………… and in other breaking news my joining instructions for Leg 2 arrived yesterday!!! and behind closed doors in the sitting room (beyond the reach of Arthur the dog) my packing is beginning to take shape.
Thank you to all who have already donated to my various charity causes. As I explained when I first set up this blog back in April 2018, I am funding my participation in the 2019-2020 Race, my additional insurance, all my kit, and all the travel myself. But I am
also raising money for 3 charities – Diabetes UK, the National Autistic Society and UNICEF UK. I’ve written before about the last two (See Blog 35: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time …… and The Reason I Jump, published 26 Nov 2018 – and incidentally one of my favourite blog posts – plus Blog 36: PS…The photo that almost got away!, published
9 December 2018, plus Blog 43: Thank you to all who donated last year, published 9 January 2019 and Blog 46: Making Waves for Children – UNICEF, published 7 February 2019 – before I knew I was part of the UNICEF team.
I will write about diabetes and my condition before I depart for South America in a little over 3 weeks time but in the meantime here are the links to my JustGiving pages:
Please take a look. Thank you.