In the lead up to the Cape Town arrivals – which looks like it will be a nail-biting finish – we asked the sailors onboard to document their day in the same 24 hours. Without seeing what the others had written or said, they each completed the task. This is one day onboard Mālama from five different perspectives.
In alphabetical order, first up is Jack Bouttell, delving into the emotional spectrum of life onboard.
It’s a funny life offshore. You could say it’s an emotional roller coaster at times. As you gain more experience, you try to be more stable as it is tiring to always be up and down like that.
There are amazing moments, moments of being fairly chilled, and moments of boredom. Life slows down, and our emotions are driven by the position reports of other boats, whether we are going fast/slow, and how many breakages we are dealing with. Everything can seem totally fine, and then just a small problem will turn your focus upside down as you work intensely to resolve it.
As the leg draws to an end, the intensity will grow. Especially when the weather picture is not clear. The decisions become more important as there is no margin for error. The boat is already being pushed hard, but we push harder because all those tiny gains could make the difference in the end.
On top of that the fatigue of the last month is building up, and it is noticeable to everyone. My family is already in Cape Town, so I’m really looking forward to arriving. Plenty to play for though as this leg comes to a close.
Next up, is Charlie Enright. Charlie was the only sailor who chose to leave a voice note, a voice note that started with ‘hey, it’s Charlie’, just in case we weren’t sure!
Hey, this is Charlie, I was asked to give you an update on my day… well here goes. I guess one instruction was to make it personal. So I won’t tell you anything about this mad situation of a race we have on our hands here between now and the finish. I’ll talk about me, the person… so what’s on my mind? THE RACE!!! That’s all I can think about, I’m serious.
You know, we’ve been doing this for 16 days and it’s down to the wire. I’m not focused on much else, my mind doesn’t even wander. So, how am I feeling? As good as we can possibly feel. We’re ahead of everybody currently as I say this, but as you can see, that can change in an instant. Not only does the weather look unfavorable ahead, (and I don’t know if that’s too race update-y for you) but it’s all so uncertain. It’s changing model run to model run and with these uncertainty comes a bit of anxiety. So there’s that.
But at the end of the day, what are you gonna do about it? You know, we’re in a good of a place ad we can be and we’ve made good decisions to date. And, you know, I trust us. So that’s all I’m really thinking about. I mean, my family’s in Cape Town, but I was told not to worry about them. So I’m not – excited for this finish line though.
Thanks to all the fans who are following and I hope it’s a good result for us all!
sense of duty
Simon Fisher (Si Fi) delivered a complete and thoughtful picture of what’s on his mind as the Navigator of 11th Hour Racing Team.
We are so close to Cape Town but the reality of the situation is that this race is far from over. I keep thinking all the miles won and lost up to this point are likely to count for very little. The forecast between here and the finish is complicated, filled with light winds and weather features that are typically poorly defined by the models. Despite hours staring at the various options, they remain just that, for answers aren’t coming any time soon.
As I look into the chaos of optimum routes on the computer screen, each one weaving their own way through the mess of ridges and cols on the models a certain understanding of the situation presents itself. However, it isn’t enough to stop an anxious feeling from welling up in the stomach. I was once told by a navigator – much older and wiser than me – that our job is to worry and its clearly something I’ve taken to heart. What do we do next? Should we commit to an option or wait? Should we make a break or stick with the fleet? Can we continue to keep all our options open, and for how long? It would be nice to know the answers if only to rid myself of the stress of the situation.
Moments later, as the wind shifts once again, I feel completely at ease, objective in the reality that the fleet is going to converge, and a lead at this stage really means nothing at all. Joking in the cockpit about the absurdity of the circumstances we trivialize the fact that our lead has withered to nothing and we are taking the stern of a boat that a little under 24 hours ago was 75 miles behind. The stress of the situation seems to ebb away.
Perhaps it’s because suddenly we are no longer the hunted and are back on the hunt once again. In a matter of moments, we no longer have a lead to defend and that is as freeing as it is frustrating. We are just going to have to let it all play out outside Cape Town.
If one thing is for sure, it’s that is we have a serious race on our hands, and that’s all I really need to be thinking about for the next day or so. There will be fun moments, and there will be frustration, but it’s all very much part of the game.
Justine Mettraux (Juju) used her time to reflect and appreciate the day. Looking beyond the intensity of racing she gives us insight into the beauty of wildlife offshore.
So about today, I have to say it’s hard to think about something else than the race!! As we get closer to the finish, and as the game is still really close, there’s everything to play for with our opponents.
Apart from this I have to say I’m thinking happy I am to be back in the south Atlantic, you forget how nice it is to see the wildlife from this part of the planet again, the southern birds, and that we crossed a huge whale a few hours ago! It’s an experience so few people have, so I enjoy it every time I am here. The beauty of the wildlife and the sense of calm it can give you is exceptional.
My watches follow one another, rolling into one as we desperately try and find the best course. It’s harder now to get out of bed from the comfort of a warm sleeping bag and go on deck, as quite cold outside now!
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Finally, it’s Amory Ross, Media Crew Member onboard Mālama, whose note touches on the bigger picture and the privilege of sailing around the world.
Before the start of the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race I was told that sailing into Cape Town is one of this race’s most memorable moments. There are obvious others, Cape Horn being at the top of the list, and I think this was understandably biased from South African-born Jono Swain, but it’s a sentiment I’ve heard echoed since, many times. That race, however, we arrived in Cape Town not by sail, but on the deck of a cargo ship after a week’s delivery from a small island called Tristan da Cunha.
It was a chip on my shoulder. So too, was being overly concerned that same race with documenting Cape Horn that I forgot to appreciate it for myself. These many “chips,” there were certainly more, probably account for the races that I’ve done since. I wanted to go back to Cape Horn and look at it myself, and I did. I wanted to sail into Cape Town, and I did.
It’s now 2023, and I’m running out of chips. I guess there’s the only one I can think of left, and that’s winning this race. In reflection, 20 days into this race, that’s what motivates me most. Performing my job at a really high standard, and winning this race.
So, with stunning Table Mountain and Cape Town just around the corner, of course, I’ll once again appreciate the splendor of arriving under the shadow of one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders, but these days I’m appreciating everything I see, and feel differently: as if these experiences could be my last. Potentially my last albatross, my last Horn, my last lap. As if, in five months’ time, my one remaining chip feels sufficiently healed.