CLIPPER RACE BLOG 7: ‘Reflecting on Greenings’ by Simon Du Bois

In Simon’s latest blog he reflects on the Greenings boat running aground and the impact it has on the entire Clipper fleet crew as they continue on their quest to circumnavigate the globe….

LEG 3

Here we go again! Cape Town you have been one hell of a city but time to continue to explore the World. Australia, Fremantle you are next!

A new challenge for us as 7 new leggers joined (5 left) making for 18 members crew (+2 from Leg 2). It will be interesting to see how these changes impact the dynamics of the team. Some of the new leggers are also francophone so the French connection is getting bigger.

The first two days were unexpectedly sunny and hot with very light winds. Not my favourite, but I guess it was the calm before the storm. The next 24-36hrs gave us a good taste of how powerful the Southern Ocean can be.

It was just relentless. Wet, cold, bouncy; you name it, it was there. But what I want to talk about today is the Greenings incident and how it is lived from another boat’s perspective although by now you probably have more insight (and maybe images) than us.

 

Tuesday October 31 2017

Nikki comes on deck with an announcement: “Greenings has run aground, all onboard communications are blocked*”.

*With every incident, the Clipper Race rule is to block communications onboard. This is to ensure the incident is communicated properly using real facts and to avoid spreading words around that could affect friends and families of all race crew members.

Although the answers came in later, the first thoughts were :

– OMG, this is awful!

– Is everyone OK?

– Where did it happen?

– How did it happen?

– How much damage?

It was even so surprising because Greenings were the team to beat after winning the first two stages.

The next day Nikki came back with a follow up announcement: “Greenings race is OVER guys!”

– It was hard to believe that she meant the whole Clipper 2017-2018 Race and not just the leg

– The damages were too big and the boat was awash

– We were relieved to hear that luckily no one had been injured on the incident

– But hearing that their dream was over was cruel

I just could not imagine losing my dream like that. All the work, all the time, all the preparation, and all the investment gone to dust in the glimpse of an eye. Again, how could this happen? We all have the charts. Everyone should know where their boat is and whether they are in a danger or risky zone. Why did they decide on that route? All questions that will be answered eventually.

After the shock and the questioning about the incident comes the interrogation and the solutions :

– What will happen to their crew members?

– Can they get a replacement boat to continue the race?

– Will they be refunded?

– How about the round the worlders? Will they join another boat? Will they take part in the next edition?

I just could not imagine how I would feel in their shoes. I mean, doing the Clipper Race is such an investment and a commitment and to see it all go, just like that, on a (potential) human error. An error from the people you trust with your life throughout the toughest oceans in the world.

Incidents like that are a real reality check. It gives us (the other boats) the opportunity to reflect and discuss what if scenarios that we hope will never happen. It also gives the opportunity to discuss any matters, worries or concern people may have. It is so important that we take this opportunity why everything is going well for us rather than wait until things go wrong and I am happy that this is what we did onboard Visit Seattle. It is also a reminder that we must never become complaisant and stay on the lookout for any potential incidents.

It’s getting colder by the day here, glad to see the weather giving us a small break until we hit the mighty roaring 40s.

 

FRENCH VERSION:

Et c’est repartie! Cape Town fut un arret incroyable mais il est deja temps de repartir : Fremantle, Australie, on arrive!!

Avec 7 nouveaux equipiers et 5 departs, il sera interranssant de voir l’impact sur la dynamique de notre “nouvelle” equipage de 18 personnes (+2 par rappot a l’etape 2). De plus, la “french connection” grandit avec l’arrivee de 2 francophones.

A notre surprise les deux premiers jours ont ete ensoleilles, tres chaud avec des trous de vents. Definitement pas ce que je prefere. Je crois que c’etait le calme avant la tempete car les deux jours suivants nous ont donnes un apercu de la puissance de l’ocean du sud. C’etait juste “relentless” (trouver la traduction). Les evolutions et changements de voiles n’ont pas arretes pendant au moins 36 heures et on s’est fait prendre survoile a quelques reprises ou je ne sais pas quel miracle on a reussi a descendre les voiles. Le vent et le voile etait d’une puissance qu’on n’avait pas vraiment connu encore. Tellement que je me suis poser la question a savoir si on pouvait se noyer a force de se faire ramasser par des vagues.

Nous nous maintenons dans le groupe de tete avec une route plutot conservateur en milieu de peloton (Nord-Sud). Malgre tout c’est l’incident de Greenings qui retiendra notre attention pendant cette premiere semaine et c’est de cela dont j’ai envie de vous parler aujourd’hui.

Mardi 31 Octobre 2017

Nikki debarque sur le pont avec une annonce : “Greenings s’est echoue, les communications a bord sont bloquees jusqu’a nouvel ordre. Plus de details a venir.

* A chaque incident, Clipper block toutes les communications a bord de tous les voiliers afin de s’assurer que l’incident soit communique adequatement sans inquieter les milliers de famille et amis des membres d’equipages.

Meme si les reponses viendront plus tard, nos premieres pensees ont ete :

– Oh mon dieu, c’est terrible?

– Est-ce que tout le monde est OK?

– Que s’est-il passe?

– Ou?

– Quels sont les dommages?

Ce qui etait encore plus une surprise est que l’equipe touche etait Greenings. L’equipe qui avait remporte les deux premieres etapes.

Le lendemain, Nikki nous est revenun avec une mise a jour : “La course de Greenings est terminee!”

– Ca ete dure de croire qu’elle parlait de la Clipper au complet et non pas juste de l’etape Afrique-Australie.

– Les dommages etaient trop lourd et le bateau allait etre “salvaged” (a traduire) en prenant en compte les impacts environnementaux

– Nous etions tout de meme soulager d’entendre qu’il n’y avait pas de blesse

– Mais d’entendre que c’etait la fin du reve de plusieurs etait cruel

Je ne pouvais m’imaginer mon reve prendre fin d’une tel maniere. Apres tant de travail, de preparation et meme d’investissement, de tout voir s’envoler en fume comme ca etait innimaginable. Comment etait-ce possible? Nous avons les cartes, le systeme de navigation. Tout le monde devrait savoir oz ils se trouvent et les differents danger autour. De voir un tel reve se perdre a cause d’une erreur (sans doute) humaine etait impensable. Apres tout, on met nos vies en jeu et entre les mains d’un skipper professionel pour passer a travers les oceans les plus intenses du monde.

Apres le shock, les questions tournaient plus autour de la continuite :

– Qu’allait-il arrivee aux equipiers

– Peuvent-ils remplacer le bateau et reprendre la course. Un Clipper68 peut-etre (les anciennes generations)

– Est-ce que les gens seront rembourses?

– Qu’adviendra-t-il des “round the worlders”? Seront-ils alloues sur les autres bateaux? Allait-il prendre part aux prochaines editions?

Les incidents graves sont de vrais “reality check”. Ca nous offre l’opportunite de reflechir, de prendre du recul et de discuter entre equipe les “si jamais” qu’on souhaite n’arriveront jamais. Ca nous permet egalement d’ouvrir la discussion a tout probleme, tout inconfort ou toute incomprehension que les uns et les autres pourraient avoir. C’est egalement un bon rappel qu’il faut rester vigilent du debut a la fin.

Le temps s’est finalement calme un petit peu ici, on en profitera pour se faire un toilette et faire secher les vetements alors que les temperatures commencent a descendre.

A bientot

Simon

 

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