The city of Derry~Londonderry not only gave us an amazing welcome when we arrived but were out in force to wish us well on our departure. The banks were lined with people cheering and at times applauding us (which we returned to them for their support). As the home team we did two laps in the river parade and were again covered in confetti which was a special moment.
Race start was at Greencastle where again the supporters were out in force to watch, which was back to being a line start. We haven’t had a line start since Hobart so it came with my usual apprehension for 12 yachts fighting for the perfect line. Although line starts can be exciting, I always have this fear we are going to get rammed by someone and generally there can be a lot of shouting between boats as each helm tries to get the perfect line. I can happily report that there were no incidents and I do of course trust our helms and skipper completely!
Although we were nearer to land than we have been in a long while, we sadly didn’t get to see much of the spectacular Scottish coastline as the first day or so was misty. We could see some of the fleet and I always knew this shorter race could end up with a close fleet throughout. With the mist came the cold so I was glad I kept my layers rather then sending too much home with Mum and Dad when they visited.
I’ve had many ‘firsts’ this year and the latest one was being the furthest North I’ve ever been. This also came with long daylight hours and so darkness came for only about 3 hours and even then it wasn’t fully dark. I took some photos as we came across the top of Scotland, we could see LMax near us and these photos were taken at about 10pm! As we headed east we came to the tide at Pentland Firth. This tide was going to have a big impact on the fleet. If you ended up with the tide against you then progress East would be slow going. In any normal sailing situation you would time it perfectly so as to have the tide with you. Being in a race we couldn’t do any more than get there and hope for the best. On arrival at Pentland Firth, LMax and us were leading the fleet but sadly the tide was turning and against us so we had to sit it out and wait for it to turn thus meaning that when we had finally made it out the other end the rest of the fleet had closed the gap.
We reached the North Sea and it was so so flat! I couldn’t quite believe it as people had been worried it was to be choppy and hard going. This meant we did make good progress towards Den Helder and had to weave our way through oil rigs and shipping along the way.
As Den Helder approached we were edging back the miles the boats had ahead of us. Once again we ran out of water and ended up coming in 4th with the boat ahead (Da Nang) crossing the line 3.5 miles in front of us. The podium boats this time were all teams who haven’t frequented the podium much this year and the excitement from those teams on their achievements was overwhelming. Although we didn’t make the podium, our place in front of LMax and GB means that, no matter what our result in the final race, we will come 2nd overall. This is a mega achievement.
This is the last stopover and I’m in denial still that this time next week my Clipper race will be over. It’s an odd feeling and I’m not sure yet how I will feel when it’s gone. What does life hold for me? I’ve got one race left and maybe sometime during that I will have the epiphany I’ve been hoping for as to what comes next!
Can’t wait to see lots of you in London on Saturday (30 July) – no idea how many of you are coming so thank you in advance!
Big love one and all,