Race 2 - Day 2
Crew Diary - Race 2 Day 2: Punta del Este to Cape Town
06 October

Thomas Herbst
Thomas Herbst
Team GREAT Britain
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Experience of an Oncoming Legger

As you all know by now, there are round the worlders who do all 8 legs, and there are leggers, who do one or more legs. Leggers after Leg 1 face the following situation: they come onto a boat where a team has already formed during the previous leg, and that team knows the boat inside out.

For getting to know the boat again, the Clipper Race requires a one day refresher sail with your skipper and the oncoming crew. This also includes a man over board drill. In addition, there is a safety briefing for the whole crew. This provides you with a good starting point.

Getting to know and integrating into the existing team is more up to you. In Punta del Este, we were lucky to have a team house, where about 10-14 people stayed. I decided to be there early and live in the house to have an opportunity to get to know as many of the crew as I could. Boat preparation was another chance to get to know the others and integrating well.

GREAT Britain was extremely welcoming and now with two days of true racing under my belt, I am very happy. You obviously win the race by arriving first – so you need to constantly optimise between going for a shorter distance with less winds, or longer distance with better wind. In addition to this weather/wind challenge, you always need to have the optimum sail plan up. In changing conditions this needs to happen constantly and is very tiring for the team. Reef in – reef out – reef in – reef out; Yankee 3 down – Code 3 (heavyweight) Spinnaker up, Code 3 (heavyweight) Spinnaker down, Code 2 (mediumweight) Spinnaker up – repeat. Endlessly.

Andy for me found the perfect balance in the first days of Leg 2. We had perfect sailing conditions, sunshine, warmth, and blue skies for the race start in Punta del Este, and did well. When preparing for Race Start, Andy took time to re-explain exactly what needed to be done to the new incoming crew. This enables us to come up to speed and over time become confident. The critical manoeuvres at Race Start were done by the experienced crew members.

4 hours later in the Southern Atlantic, we changed into our watch system. With 16 crew, we are operating on two watches of eight people each. That is if everybody is available. During the first days, we are faced with seasickness for parts of the crew. For me this was a new experience where simple things suddenly become really hard. You do not have the routine of the crew who have already done this for 33 days yet. And you do not feel well when doing this. Also, you do not want to make a mess.

Why perfect balance? During those days I felt we were not pushing for utmost speed, but allowing the crew to settle in and deal with the fact of reduced performance due to being sick. At the same time, we always keep and eye on the leaders and make sure we do not fall too far behind.

I also find my team mates extremely supportive. Others stepped in when I did not feel well enough to do a log entry down below (thanks Gareth!). Or help out in the galley (kitchen) when I needed to lie down to get better (thanks Ian). And Tessa is relentless on making sure we check all the vital statistics related to seasickness so that we do not dehydrate.

The Race Start in Punta del Este was absolutely amazing with perfect conditions. The first time in my life I was on the ocean during full moon. We only saw it a few times, but even with clouds, it lights up the sky so that we can see waves and the sea around us during the whole night. Then there is the exhilaration of steering a 70 foot boat in high seas, where the waves turn your boat constantly. Sea birds around us constantly. The occasional squid washed up on deck. And the excitement finding out a few times per day how we are doing in the race. This is what I am here for!

I now truly feel team GREAT Britain. Thanks Andy, thanks fellow crew!

Ulla, Eva and Felix - thank you for supporting me doing this and I am looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Thomas