Nick Moloney and Conrad Humphreys have two very different reactions to their Transat race
Yesterday evening and at dawn this morning, Nick Moloney and Conrad Humphreys finished in Boston after sporadic battles with each other, separated by under 12 hours. The two skippers could hardly have had more different reactions to their races: Moloney a choking display of heartfelt emotion; Humphreys cheerfully composed.
Nick Moloney (pictured above) made absolutely no bones about it: he’d had a tough race and was only too pleased it was over. “It was freezing cold,” he said, “Far colder than the south.” And it was a huge struggle at times. “I had one of my biggest wipeouts a few days ago, fully loaded with the full main and chute. I went through the whole panic mode and I thought: ‘Uh-oh, I’m in big trouble’ and I downed tools.”
He also talked, as many other skippers here have done, of the disarming hallucinogenic effects of sleep deprivation. At one point he was sure Conrad Humphreys, racing within sight of him, had a crew on board. “I was really irate with Conrad that night. I completely lost it. I thought I was doing this on my own when Conrad had a crew. I had a rest, then I woke up and looked at the chartplotter and saw Port Philip Bay [Melbourne, his home] and I thought: ‘Don’t move! Don’t move until you know where you are.’ That probably lasted about an hour.”
Moloney’s view is that the forthcoming Vendée Globe will have to be a more moderate affair. “We can’t go this fast round the world, no way. We will have to slow the tempo.”
Conrad Humphreys arrived this morning with little idea of how hard his rival had found the race and his perspective was completely different. “It wasn’t as tough a race as I expected it to be,” said the former BT Global Challenge winner, a man not given to hyperbole. “I thought it would be the biggest challenge of my life, but it didn’t turn out that way. I was very relaxed going off because I was very prepared and it just stayed that way. I got my rhythm very quickly.
“It started off more of a battle in Nick’s mind than mine, though I was grateful to have someone of pace to help me work my way through the fleet.’
Humphreys has sailed an excellent race, finishing ahead of such experienced, quick sailors as Marc Thiercelin and Sebastian Josse, even though his main priority was always to get here so as to qualify for the Vendée Globe. He sailed a middle course, deliberately avoiding the big winds that caused such havoc for others in the class. The tactic of sailing straight for the centre of a deep depression and then tacking on the windshift at the back of it was fine, he said, when he was racing a 40 tonne Global Challenge yacht, but not on an Open 60. “They were just piling into [that depression] and I tacked away. When I heard boats were dismasted I was stunned, but I did think it was stupid.”
He, too, had tales of fatigue madness. In his case, it took the form of wishful thinking. Once, he believed he’d handed over the helm to one of his shore crew, so he took off his clothes, folded them neatly and went to bed, only to wake later and find the boat running amok at 28 knots along under the big overlapping Code 5 headsail.
On another occasion, Jennifer Anniston arrived to help him do some shopping (what else?) and coquettishly asked him to take off his balaclava so she could see his face.
He did, of course, and in the process she vanished.