Hope you guys are all doing great. We did not have a lot of time to recover from our emotions after our Pacific crossing before we set sail again. This time going south towards the heat and the sun. Leg 6: The Mighty Pacific will be a leg I will remember all my life for its extraordinary conditions and the emotions it gave us. Lots of memories and learnings came out of this race.
I was fortunate enough to be welcome by a personal supporter crew upon my arrival in Seattle. My parents, my wife and her parents all showed up to cheer me up and wish me a big welcome. But they were not the only ones, Simon, a good friend of mine drove four hours from Whistler to come see me and even my brother and his partner showed up a few days later. Additionally, I met with 6 students from my high school back home in Quebec who had been selected to fly over the country and visit me to complete a school project on the race. One aspect of the race that was truly important to me was to SHARE the experience. It was important to me because by sharing this dream and the ups and down along the journey, I wish to INSPIRE people to go after their own dreams, whichever they may be. DREAMING is the first step obviously. The second is DARING, putting these dreams to action. This is probably the biggest step of all. This is where most dreams come to an end...or remain dreams or what ifs.
There are so many reasons not to dare to go after our dreams; not enough time, not enough money, can't quit my job, what if I fail, etc. etc. But at some point, if that dream or the idea of realizing that dream makes you happy or believe in a happier future, sometimes you just gotta go. Like Richard Branson says: “screw it, let's do it”. His book actually helped me a lot in my decision to launch my Clipper Race Project. No dreams come to realization without ups and downs, obstacles, challenges and risks and this is why you must persevere and NEVER GIVE UP. You got to go ALL IN. If you want your dream to come true you gotta give it a real chance to succeed and overcome the challenges. That's where the learnings will come from. If you think dreams and success comes easy, you are wrong. Nowadays it’s so easy to be fooled by what we see on Facebook, Instagram. The trips, the achievements and successes, etc. It makes us envious of others. What we don't see is the compromises and efforts that go beyond these pictures.
Being the Marlow ambassador and writing these blogs is one way from me of sharing my story and I try to keep it as realistic as possible and to share my ups and downs. High school is difficult period in most people's life. It's where people are looking for their identity. It's where people are trying to figure out what they want to do. I still remember being 14-15 and being clueless about my future. I had many dreams at the time but none that I thought were achievable. One of which, as stated in my graduating yearbook was to sail around the world. It's by meeting people that had accomplish their dreams that I started believing in my own. Thinking back to that time, I decided I wanted to share my Clipper Race journey with the kids from my high school and the schools' administration and professors loved the idea of giving the kids a lifetime opportunity to learn through a real project. As such, they integrated following the race in their school curriculum and through many projects and initiatives during the year. One of which was for six students to come visit me in Seattle. I had the chance to meet the student prior to departure to share my dream and my intention to live this project with them. I will also go talk with them upon my return to discover what they thought about it.
I also had the pleasure to go sailing with Paul, sales director of Marlow, and a few reps. A fantastic day out on the water. They were very interested to learn about the experience that Clipper Race is. We could clearly see the passion of sailing they all shared. Especially when other Clipper Race boats arrived on the water. Everyone agreed to "go play, and join the party". I must say. I'd love to have some of them on my team. Most of all I was impressed by their professionalism. Paul was really interested to get my feedback on any issues or recommendations I could have for their ropes and use onboard the Clipper Race yachts. I could truly see a desire to improve their product and partnership with Clipper Race.
Despite a late arrival of the wind, we were finally able to provide the Seattle supporters with a great inshore race, which we won! The result would decide the starting line order for the next day. I was so impressed to see so many supporter boats with us on the water and fortunate enough to have one of them take on my family and the kids on the water for an unforgettable experience.
Personally, I had little expectations towards this race other than seeing and experiencing the passage through the Panama Canal. I knew the leg would be light winds and the weather would get really hot. Two things I don't particularly enjoy. And after all the emotions and adrenaline of the Pacific, I mean that seemed a bit borring.
As Forest Gump says, life is like a box of chocolate you never know what you gonna get. Despite lighter winds, the first part of this race has been one of the most exciting one so far. This was mainly due to the proximity of the boats and always having someone in sight. It was a bit funny to be match racing hundreds of miles offshore, collapsing each other's kite all of this at an extreme speed of 4-5 knots. I’m sure we looked like two oldies spring racing for the last jello with their canes.
It seems like everyone has had some sort of spinnaker misfortune since the beginning. We broke our Code 3 (heavy weight). The repairs took longer than expected due to some sewing machine problems – Clearly, we were unlucky on that one. We had built a good lead with Qingdaoat the front. The temptation to hoist our middle weight spinnaker was tempting but we resisted although the fleet was catching up quickly. The winds were just outside the range of the Code 2 and there was just too much sailing left to risk it, especially with our sewing machine problems. Gladly we learnt from previous mistake and waited for the wind to drop to hoist it at which point we were able to maintain our lead.
After securing a point in the Elliot Brown Ocean sprint and two in the Scoring Gate, we are now following the coast of Mexico, fighting for inches and some luck to get us through the many windholes ahead of us before we reach the final stretch towards the Canal.