With less that a week to go until the start of the inaugural Portimão Global Ocean Race the dockside activity is getting more frantic and, for sure, the stomach butterflies are starting to swarm.
A solo or double-handed race around the world is no small undertaking and that reality is coming into clear view as the days tick steadily toward the October 12 start.
That aside the spirit on the quayside and afterwards at the local fish restaurants were the teams have been gathering is all upbeat and positive. 'I don’t think this will really sink in until Sunday after the start gun has fired,' said Peter Van Der Wel, co-skipper of Kazimir/Ocean Warrior. 'We have been working so long and hard on this that the days just blend into one another. Nothing is really different for us. But come Sunday…..' Come Sunday land will slip quietly into the ocean behind the fleet and they will be off on a journey of discovery and self-discovery.
To ensure that they will not have any spare time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Portimão, the Van Der Wel brothers have undertaken a few large last-minute boat projects. They have redesigned their water ballast system and can be seen carrying various large bits of plumbing around. They have also decided to add a wind generator and between the boat and the container/workshop there is a strong hint of resin in the air. Fortunately the conditions in Portimão for working on the boats is ideal; hot days with no humidity and not a cloud in sight.
Onboard the Dutch boat Hayai, Nico Budel has been working steadily through his worklist. New instruments arrived to be installed but like most seamen who have seen their fair share of ocean races, Nico seems happiest when tinkering with some rigging project. Mostly it’s about sails. New sails are arriving along with various sailmakers in tow and it’s getting harder to walk down the dock without tripping over someone head down installing battens or laying down sticky back dacron for chafe protection. Sailmakers from both North and Quantum have been on site to ensure that one of the most critical items on any offshore sailboat are in perfect shape.
A sign that the worklists are getting shorter and some of the more easily put-off tasks are finally surfacing is the sight of many of the boats setting their storm sails to check sheeting positions. While it would seem obvious to non sailors that this kind of routine would be of paramount importance, the fact is that many sailors don’t get to this level of detail until a storm blows in, by which time it’s too late.
So as the shadows lengthen here in Portugal the count down cock reads 5 days and some hours until the start. It’s a serene scene with race flags fluttering gently in the late afternoon breeze with skippers and shore teams tidying up from another day at the office. Not bad work if you can get it. http://www.portimaorace.com/