Sunday, October 17, 2010

Good Morning Start

Sunday, October 17

The build up to this morning has been amazing. Velux and the Clipper Ventures have really developed such an incredible experience, not only for the skippers and crew, but for the entire public. The docks are lined. Family, friends, fans and thousands of others have rallied for this special day. I want to thank all of the individuals and sponsors who have helped get here. It is nice to have family here. My father is on the docks, along with his cousin from Annapolis. It will be hard to say goodbye to Meg and the kids. I am eager to see how the “42 year old version” of this race works.

The weather looks good. The first 500 miles will be focused on getting through safely. Cape Finisterre is heavy with fishing and other commercial traffic. The Bay of Biscay can of course be one of the most treacherous places on Earth, but right now it looks as if we may have pleasant North to Northeasterlies and 15-20 knots. Not bad considering the beating the bay has delivered in the past.

I look forward to getting offshore and sharing the journey with you!

Au revoir,

24 Hours to the Start

Saturday, October 16

Le Pingouin is looking good and the “keys” have officially been passed from my incredible shore based team to me. We’ve cleared all pre-race inspections and met the criteria for the start. The scrutineering is a rather involved process. The sails were all checked in with race officials and to comply with the stability test we had to move the keel back and forth to verify that it does not cause the boat to heel beyond the allowed limit. The displacement of the boat was also confirmed by measuring freeboard.

Today was filled with the last activities in prep for the start on Sunday. This included shopping for fresh provisions to accompany my staple diet of AlpineAire dehydrated meals and Grawnola. I’ve packed some fresh fruits, bread, and sausage which will be nice treats for the first week offshore. Other than the shopping I put my head around the lifestyle onboard for the race, so we cleaned the boat, took any unnecessary weight off, added sleeping bags and double checked utility items like flashlights. It is somewhat of a “pre-launch” sequence to make sure I am ready to roll tomorrow. The tiniest detail can in fact throw you for a loop. In 2002 I forgot a hairbrush and spent 40 days forking my hair.

Every racer has their own way of preparing for the adjustment from life on land to the solo racing lifestyle onboard. My fellow competitor Chris from England has already started torturing himself a bit with sleep deprivation and the transition to sleeping in small bits. My philosophy is more like jumping into a cold pool. I’m not very good at doing things slowly, so I go straight from a pretty standard schedule on land to the intensity of 25 minute naps and a total of about 4 hours sleep in each 24 hour period. The first 24-48 hours is tough and I won’t sleep. I tend to knock myself into exhaustion mode in those first couple days at sea. The first 5 days at sea tends to feel like 1/3 of the journey. The next 5 days feels like another 1/3. From there on out the pain has a nice settling affect and I hit my groove. This is all of course based on my past experience of solo races around the world in 1998/99 and 2002/3 and ocean crossings before and after those epic events. We’ll have to see if the VELUX 5 OCEANS of 2010-11 changes those patterns.

I’ll be sending one more blog as a Sunday treat, and then it is on the boat and on my way to Cape Town. Thanks for checking in and please do continue, as the stories will get more interesting as the race begins!