In case you didn't see this on the Clipper Race website. My crew diary entry of May 20, 2016.
Yesterday at Happy Hour, John lead us in a quiz designed to teach the non-UK folks a bit about the English language as spoken aboard this UK vessel.
I learned that "chuffed" meant something like "proud and happy". That is how we are all feeling today, the day after a challenging finish to the portion of the race marked by gate 3 of the race course. "Exciting" and "action packed" don't begin to describe it!
A couple watch cycles before, we were in third place. The next watch put us in first. LMAX Exchange drew near and we kept them in our sights, always maneuvering to keep ourselves between them and the gate. In the few hours before reaching the gate, we had light air and heavy air, wind shifts and squalls to contend with. Our tactics drew us to the far side of the gate and we engaged in a tacking duel to the western point of the gate.
I wish I could show you a picture. Dusk was upon us. The humid air and the water all around was golden with the sunset. I will forever hold in my memory a view of LMAX Exchange in dark profile in the beam of the setting sun. With thunderhead clouds quickly building all around us. And lightening in the distance.
A squall came through, flattening the cresting waves and drenching us as we raced on. Yankee down, Yankee up, now light air, staysail down, staysail up, wildly swinging wind direction, tack, tack, tack again. Finally, a couple of miles from the virtual mark, the wind settled in. Quite soft. We were reaching for the mark. LMAX Exchange made a bold move and hoisted a spinnaker. Slowly, they creeped ahead. It was agony. We saw them drop the spinnaker and head up for the line, crossing only about 500 meters ahead of us. What an exciting and dramatic finish to this phase of the race.
The crew stood on the deck and applauded LMAX Exchange as we drew near them at the line. It was amazing to be in such close quarters after several weeks of racing in open ocean. A wonder to see other humans up relatively close!
Thanks to LMAX Exchange for returning the tribute with a "victory lap" around us and an enthusiastic cheer for us!
After that, our fighting spirit overcame us once again, and the call went out, "Let's go get 'em!".
For much of the race, we have been in sight of other boats. This has pushed us to be our best, and has driven winning behaviours (trim, trim, trim!) during other times when it was easy to feel isolated and alone out here - complacency can set in. It was great to improve upon our 4th place finish of a previous race. Matt has asked us to reflect on what our "winning actions and behaviours" have been, so that we can carry them forward to the next race and improve upon them.
This will be our discussion topic for our next happy hour.
Meanwhile, we are sailing and motor sailing directly to Costa Rica to refuel and then on to Panama. We will use the days ahead to clean and prep the boat as much as possible, and ourselves as well, for the next race. We are looking forward to a bit of a rest in Panama, and to the crossing to the Atlantic.
It's worth noting that, after several weeks of seeing almost no marine wildlife, there has been an abundance in recent days. Plenty of acrobatic dolphins, and boobies on the bowsprit, also whale sightings, and a turtle, too.
The skies and expanse of water all around have treated us to a feast for the eyes, both day and night.
Thank you for your messages of encouragement and congratulations. We hope you have enjoyed the show on race viewer!