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Oldest tale of them all

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 11 Nov 2018 13:00 PST
Armel Le Cleac'h on Maxi Solo Banque Populaire IX - 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe © Yvan Zedda

In order to finish first, first you have to finish. I certainly felt for the Golden Globe Race leader, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, this week. He has so much daylight between him and second-placed Mark Slats that they are often up to two weather systems apart. His turn for a knockdown eventually came, however.

It looked like Jean-Luc too would be relegated to the ever-expanding, and now largest class in the race combined with the retirees, the Chichester, as he indicated he would have to make for Chile to effect repairs. Then came the news that he would indeed push on home to Les Sables d'Olonne, clearly with the aim of winning this thing, which is kind of understandable when you are in seas about as tall as your boat is long, and it is blowing elephants off chains. You'd kinda would want a big fat reward for slugging it out at something like six knots at best, I'd say... Fair enough, too! So his 18-hour penalty for using the satphone pretty much pales into the horizon of the Pacific.

The weather also got stuck into the Route du Rhum, as well. The explosive Edmund de Rothschild certainly blasted away from the blocks, but soon was in major strife with the starboard float. Another of the mighty Ultime tris, Sodebo, also had issues, this time the for'ard beam, which goes to show just how strenuous it must have been. Yet it was seeing Banque Populaire IX capsized, and sans port float, that was a real eye opener. Remembering that this is not the first time she has had issues.

All the while, François Gabart on Macif 2.0 just stretched away to take lead, and be in more than the running to claim a new record (at the time of writing) from the man who sits around 100nm astern of him, Francis Joyon.

Meanwhile, Alex Thomson leads the IMOCAs. If you follow the hop, skip, jump trend of this class, then the next Vendée is his, and he'll have a new weapon for that particular task as well. One hell of a lot of water, and so many swells to tackle before that, so best we not put the hex on him now.

Looking for the segue, yet? Well, here it is... She's trying to be the first woman around Oz, and also do it in the fastest time. I finally got to speak with her as she was 'bobbing' around off Arnhem Land. 'She/her' is of course one Lisa Blair. Even though she was mainly drifting, pulling out an amazing two knots, as usual, her chin was up.

In relation to sleep, which was the subject we reviewed in No idea, but just one..., Lisa commented, "It is interesting. Somehow I am still functioning, but my versions of tired change all the time! The Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait were especially challenging, with the alarm going off every 20 to 30 minutes depending on the risks."

"There is not such a high physical demand on me presently, as there are not as many sail changes. I have had the reef in once, and shaken it out, as well as a few heady changes. Down the West coast it will be different, but for now I have been getting some longer patches in my bunk."

"I have noticed my mood swings, however. Sometimes the smallest things lead to the highest level of frustration." All in all, Lisa's spirit is working well, and acknowledges that being coastal has been challenging, which has led to higher anxiety. "Sailing onto reef, or the coastline, was a big concern. When I am sailing solo I do try to look after the sleep bank. So I am reading and napping in preparation for the onslaught. It is important to be ready for the bigger oceans."

"Knowing that I am not alone, with a couple of thousand followers and all is helping. As you know, this is my happy place, although I do prefer to be in middle of an ocean. This is where I do get a sense of freedom. I am at home."

"Sometimes I can get a bit bored, but not anxious or sad at being on my own, and I am certainly happy for all the comments coming through from the blog. Interaction is important, and I have an SMS system by Pivotel, which I use with friends and family. Their random jokes keep me entertained. I am not the only one on this journey even if the only the on the boat!"

"It is a team effort, and I am glad for my family, sponsors, and followers - all of it combines. I am really happy to have overcome the Torres Strait safely, and I have the headwinds down the coast of WA, and after that the Southern Ocean swell to deal with. I am comfortable and happy with where it is all at for now." Looking forward a little, Lisa commented, "I have always had a bit of trouble with the last couple of days of any effort I have done, so fingers crossed!"

Duck. Here comes the boom. Andrew Hawkins of kindly put me in touch with Emma Jones, who was in Miami for the Redbull Foiling Generation. "It is such a big relief to finish at 1130hrs this morning," said the HSC student on the completion of her secondary schooling before going sailing. "I am hoping to get into Exercise Physiology," Emma went on to add.

Jones started sailing at age seven at Hunters Hill, primarily because her older sister, Sarah, was doing it. "Whatever she did, I did. I remember asking her 'Is it good? Should I do it?' So I started sailing two-up in a Sabot, and loved it. I have always sailed with someone else ever since, including a Flying 11. I am at the Belmont 16s now, and my crewmate in the 29er, Jake Liddell, has also recently relocated to Belmont as well. I do some fill-in helming on the 16 for the older guys here, and I learn a lot from them. I am the only girl here, surprisingly."

Reflecting on a crazy couple of years, as Jones puts it, where she's been on the F16 Viper and of course the Nacra 15, "I have been to Europe five times alone in 2018. This is certainly the next step here in Miami. All of it has made it a bit hard on school, but things like the Worlds in Barcelona, and then going to Lake Garda two days later to attend a German training camp, are all unreal."

Emma sailed with Harry Morton at Miami. The latter would have been handy because of his experience on the Superfoiler. They were knocked out, but it was still a good showing in three-point foilers. "It all came about from an email where Hans asked me if I could be interested in Wild Card entry, and then here we are! The boats are crazy, and way bigger than the N15. The three-point foiling will be a bit different, but I have been doing N17s in Perth to get around it all. I am stepping out of my comfort zone, but excited anyway."

"Of course I have to thank my long suffering mum and dad, Chris and Katrina, for making it all possible. Then there's Michael Lundh, our coach who lives in Perth and did all of the Euro regattas with us. Andrew Hawkins saved my life with the gear. He is awesome. I lost my harness when I was in Perth, and he secured the last size zero Zhik harness for me! I also have a Musto drysuit top, which is just so good for the cold."

"The petite but powerful sailor is also sponsored by the Cross Fit Commando gym, which she attends twice a day for two hours each time, when she's at home, which she admits was not much. "Near the end of the year, for study before my exams and to be around the books I was there a bit, But other than that, not very often. I am home for meals when I can, as Mum is an awesome cook!"

Jones thanks Tristan Brown and Geoff White for her scholarship to the NSW Institute of Sport. She also says, "Lake Garda is paradise. It is just beautiful. You sail downhill in the morning, moor and get a hot chocolate, then sail back with the breeze blowing the other way. It is wonderful. Jervis Bay is great too! I'll be back soon in AUS to get the N17 ready for Sail Melb, and then Sail Sydney."

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review. We have information about the WASZPs and Moths in WA, RC44, Route du Rhum, Caribbean 600, intel from North Sails, Comanche and the Hobart, Melges 40s, American Magic's Mule, Maiden on a two-year voyage, Multis get new rating, J/24s, gear from Ross & Whitcroft, Harken Youths at RPAYC, in the yes of Nico, and certainly there is much, much more.

Remember, if your class or association is generating material, make sure we help you spread your word, and you can do that by emailing us. Should you have been forwarded this email by a friend, and want to get your very own copy in your inbox moving forward, then simply follow the instructions on our newsletter page, where you can also register for different editions.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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