Right, so here we are at last. After a fantastic stop in Den Helder, it's one last push to London and my final blog ever. This morning finds us locked in a tight battle near the front after a busy start yesterday and little sleep last night. We are currently just about holding fourth as we charge southwards down the coast of England. With the course not offering much opportunities for tactical moves, the timing of our tacks will be critical if we are to make any gains on the top three and put some more boats between ourselves and GREAT Britain.
To sum up that last 11 months in anything short of a novel is almost impossible, so I won't attempt it. Nothing I can write on this page will ever do justice to the experiences and the emotions that myself and the team have dealt with together during our adventure.
Garmin is full of individuals who don't know the meaning of 'can't', and I'm sure it's the same for the other boats. To put themselves in a position that is completely alien to them and face their fears takes enormous courage and everyone one of them should be proud of their achievements. I am proud of all of my team and after thanking them individually in my previous blog, this time I will just say a huge thank you to them all for such massive contributions and a huge congratulations for their amazing accomplishments.
We have had a great team. They have pulled together during the toughest times and laughed the whole way. I am consistently in awe of how they refuse to give in and their incredible work-ethic in all situations. We have also achieved a fantastic result overall in the race and have far exceeding our initial objectives, setting them higher with each leg. I hope that many of them have been inspired by the race and will go on to the next challenge knowing that nothing is impossible.
From a personal point of view, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to lead a sailing team around the world. It is a unique challenge and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I don't know what's next and it's certainly going to be interesting adjusting to normal life again after a crazy year. The experience of this race has taught me a huge amount about myself and my leadership style, giving me the confidence to aim high in my next steps, whatever they may be.
I would like to thank the Clipper Race staff, the unsung heroes of the past year. Putting on such a show takes a huge amount of organisation and logistics.
The behind-the-scenes work that goes on to get twelve boats and 700 individuals of all nationalities from port-to-port on a load of sailing boats is a mammoth task, as is reporting on it. We are extremely grateful for all the office, maintenance, training and media staff who work incredibly hard and without any of whom the race as it is today would not be possible.
Thank you to our sponsor, Garmin, who have been extremely good to us in port, arranging functions and activities. It has been a pleasure to meet and sail with their representatives and it is an honour to have carried their name around the world.
My final words of thanks must go to our amazing supporters everywhere. To all of our friends and family that have followed us, sometimes literally around the globe, we are humbled and hugely grateful for your unwavering support and messages, particularly during the tough times. To the crowds of people that have turned out in their thousands to see us in and out of port, thank you for making the effort and we hope that we put on a good show for you.
To Great Easton Primary and the other schools that have followed our team, thank you for the gifts and the challenges, it's amazing to know that you have been tracking us and we hope that we have inspired some future sailors and maybe even the next generation of Clipper Race crew? And thank you to the officials and locals of the stopover ports around the world, you all really made us feel welcome and helped us make the most of our time there.
So as we approach the bright lights of London and the inevitable merriment that awaits there, all that is left to do is one last Jenny Days' Day. When we arrive in London it will be International Friendship Day, and what could be more appropriate? After all, that is what this race is all about and the friendships that have been forged on this race will last forever.
Thanks for following the blogs and if you are reading this and thinking of giving sailing a go, get on the water and do it! It will be the best decision you ever made.
Let's go Garmin!
A circumnavigating Garmin Team, Out.