Race 4: Cape Town to Fremantle
(Or welcome home!)
Life on board
The trip to Australia from South Africa was a homecoming for me. While I’m not from Fremantle (I live closer to Airlie Beach, a host port in the next Leg), I have family and friends there. And the thought of stepping on Australian soil again after 8 months away (I left Australia in the beginning of May), gave me an energy in this leg that was magnified by how electric the conditions were. Our top speed for the yacht was over 27 knots, and we sailed in winds around 50knots with waves larger than most houses. We had our extreme challenges with things going wrong of course, but we kept digging deep.
Putting safety first means you’ll last. Ocean racing is an exhilarating sport and not without risks. We experienced some technical problems we solved as well as constant reminders of how powerful nature and the boat are. There’s no room for complacency on a 70ft ocean racing yacht! One of the big lessons for me was how to manage a riding turn on a winch in heavier conditions as compared to lighter conditions. Don’t touch it! Observe it. The sail and rope are likely fine. Your hands won’t be if you try to solve it using the same techniques as if the conditions were gentle. The use of dyneema strops (rescued from old Marlow Rope products) fixed to a point and attached to the active line with some rolling hitches is almost always the magical solution.
One of the many ‘R’s of sustainability is Repair. Clipper Race crew are trained to repair and maintain, under the skipper and AQPs guidance, the boat from winches to sails to halyards and everything in between. This is a role I enjoy. While damage to our ropes has not been significant to date, small areas of wear are repaired at sea or when in port as the ropes are still incredibly robust and have a long life ahead if treated well or given treatment when not well. Good repair allows for continued use.