Global Challenge skipper Dee Caffari and her crew are back at sea and racing hard towards Boston
Date: 2 May 2005. Location: 200 miles away from Cape Town. Weather: Clear skies. Heading: WNW
Departure day always comes round so fast. The stopovers are great. We sail into some fantastic places and Cape Town, with its spectacular backdrop of Table Mountain, has got to be top of the list.
For us onboard ‘Imagine it. Done’ the first week was spent licking our wounds dealing with the support that everyone offered, which was absolutely lovely but after the first two or three people reminding you how awful it must have been to finish leg four in the way we did, it becomes more difficult to think of something constructive to say.
We nursed our yacht back to good health with the help of the shore team and technical support that are provided by Challenge Business. I must say my list of problems was quite large. Then we have some time off. Fortunately we get time to visit Cape Town and the surrounding areas. Several crew went on safari, some tried adrenalin sports and some just shopped.
The final week seems to have gone in the drop of a hat. We have put the yacht back together: loaded on the inventory, sails and food for the next leg. There have been three days of corporate hospitality where we have taken the customers of our sponsors, Unisys and EMC, out sailing.
Then there is the shakedown sail. Each team has four hours on the water with their crew to blow the cobwebs away and try and remember what it is all about. This time is invaluable to our team as we have four new ‘leggers’ each leg, which is a lot of crew to integrate into an already established team. For this leg of the race from Cape Town to Boston we have two girls that the team met before we left, so things are very easy there, even though for Jacqui, who has just joined us, today is only day 25 on the water – ever. We also have two gentlemen that we have never met before.
As well as the shakedown sail we also refuelled the yacht and swung our compass, as the forces are low in Cape Town. There must a technical reason, I am sure.
Add to these days all the sponsor evenings and Challenge Business events and you can actually end the week tired and in need of another break. I guess that is what some people think we go to sea for!
So before you know it we are at start day and listening to our song being played as we leave the dock, waving to all our friends and family and beginning another voyage of discovery.
This time it is 6,800 miles to Boston. The good news about this leg is that as we head north it will get warmer without a doubt; we can work on the tans and enjoy al fresco showers in the rain. We also get to celebrate some monumental occasions. We cross our outgoing track during this leg so for the core crew that have made the complete journey we will have become round the world sailors. A full circumnavigation will have been completed. Also we have four new victims for Neptune as we ask his permission for a safe passage to cross from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere at the Equator. Now that will be a messy affair I can assure you. Food slops, saved up for a week in the tropics is not a nice thought.
Aside from all the frivolity, there is still the overriding drive and determination amongst the crew to win this leg. We are sailing to Boston as fast as we can.
This began in very light winds and memories of our arrival flooded back. As all 12 yachts floated towards the line, with very little steerage, we found ourselves all trying to stay behind the line without losing any momentum. Unfortunately Vaio were found to be over the line and I am sure we were all very close. Slowly we sailed forwards and those inshore found a pocket of breeze ahead of the rest and the long line spaced out. We rounded Mouille point still rigged for any sail possible from the spinnaker to a headsail change.
We went back inshore as Table Mountain was creating its wonderful wind shadow and there were clear acceleration zones from each side of the mountain where the wind filled in to about 15 knots. We hoisted the spinnaker and sailed to the other end of Table Bay inside Robben Island. The whole fleet went the same side of Robben Island and a wall of spinnakers sailed away from Cape Town.
I was pleased with the start. We had floated with the best of them across the start line and then rounded the first mark in the middle of the fleet and as we sailed with our spinnaker we were making good ground. Now overnight though we always we lose sight of who is who, we try to stay aware of everyone’s masthead light. Even in the dark we have heard flapping spinnakers behind us and are not sure to whom they belong. It has been an eventful evening with some sporty breeze of between 25 and 30 knots. A swell has developed from our port stern quarter and we are enjoying some great sailing.
Dee Caffari, skipper Imagine it. Done