The Debacle that Was Race Finish

It’s taken me a while to be calm enough to write this so I appologise to those of you that have been hanging on…..

Well I’m sure a number of you who followed the race on race viewer wondered what on earth was happening in the last 24 hours. It’s fair to say that so did we! After having completed 40,000 miles at sea and a year away we were all looking forward to celebrating crossing the finish line. It should have been one of the highlights of our race and a cause for huge celebration. Instead we slipped over an arbitary line with no one there to help celebrate and half the crew in bed!

Clipper decided to create an ‘elastic course’ for our finish to ensure that we arrived in perfect time for the media. So, we sailed round and round in the Solent for hours. Not a great customer experience! Our progress from Den Helder was good given the winds and we were due to arrive too early for the media that had been set up, so rather than let us finish and anchor off shore, we were to continue sailing for an unconfirmed period of time over an undefined course. Every so often the course would be extended and we would never know how long in time we were to continue sailing round in circles for. As time wore on and there was no clarity the crew became more and more frustrated and more and more despondent. We’d seen the white cliffs of Dover for the first time and it really felt like we were home. Then we saw the Isle of Wight now that definitely was home as that was where we had started. It would have been so fitting to have just raced across the line there (and we were in 2nd place for the first time ever!) then moored up to make a show for the media the following day. But it was not to be. As we continued to sail on this extended ‘elastic course’ the wind died and left us all trying to eek the most from our boats having sailed away again from the Isle of Wight.

There was much chat between the skippers about when they thought the race would be called and great frustration amongst every crew yet Clipper would not end it. Instead we continued to do the best we could with no wind and home in sight. The nail in the coffin for our boat was making a tactical decision based on wind and tide then the race being called before the tide turned – how can you make tactical decisions when a course is not clear or a time is not given? Hence we came 9th.

The actual finish was of no consequence to us as we had all lost the desire to celebrate and mark the occasion. We drifted across the line with only those on watch on deck and the rest sleeping below wishing it was all over. We then had to get up and look joyous when we crossed the manufactured finish line with the media some hours later.

A debarcle that was not a worthy end to our year!

I will write another entry on reflections once I am calm again!!!

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