After 21 days at sea, beer and burgers start to rehabilitate the Liverpool Clipper crew

Family, friends and past crewmembers thronged the breakwater to welcome us home asLiverpoolentered St Helier at 0800UTC on Saturday morning, accompanied byJersey,SingaporeandDurban. It was a moving moment which evaporated immediately the slight resentment felt by the crew at the delay in coming ashore from our projected arrival time of around 0300 – it was worth allowing the reception committee a chance to get out of bed.

Beers were immediately handed aboard asLiverpool’s lines were made fast, and apart from finishing off the deep clean we had started on the way in, the crew immediately started catching up on the gossip from the other boats and from waiting friends. It’s odd really – after being sworn enemies for 2,800 miles, all is forgotten once the results are decided and the boats are alongside. Beer at 0800 is an unusual breakfast, but lunch followed a similar vein as many of the crew made a beeline for the town pubs and fresh meat. Cheeseburgers and real ale have never tasted so good.

Jersey proved an excellent host for the race, with welcome packs coming immediately on board, and the crews invited to two main events during their stay: a picnic at the fascinating Durrell Zoo, and the official prizegiving to be held at the castle on Sunday. The local residents also seemed enthusiastic to host the fleet, with a throng of small boats coming out to greet us as we motored into the harbour.

It’s been a long trip forLiverpool, plagued by light airs late in the race resulting in a sixth position finish. The crew are inevitably disappointed – rolling around in zero wind must be one of the most dispiriting experiences on earth, especially when you’re committed to a race and can watch your position in the fleet drop, place by place, day by day. Looking towards the leaderboard and the five pointsLiverpoolwill need to wrest back fromNew Yorkto gain a podium position is hardly encouraging, but there is also a strong feeling of anticipation. Over half the crew have at least some connection with Liverpool, and entering the Albert Dock is starting to seem very close and very exciting.

The fleet will start the final race to Liverpool on Tuesday, racing to Holyhead where the fleet will reconvene before sailing for the Mersey. This is going to be the emotional part of homecoming – a line in the Celtic Sea can state that you have circled the globe, but it’s stepping ashore in your home town that will really make the difference.