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The pleasure and the pain

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 3 Feb 13:00 PST
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston congratulates Golden Globe Race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede © Clipper Race

If you have done enough racing, chances are you've had more than your share of going from boiled lollies to chocolates. Along the way, you may have even picked up some Line Honours, a championship, win under a rating system, race record, or maybe even some bling! Good on you. Congratulations. Of course, sometimes even just finishing is an important personal milestone, too.

Now if you have done all of that, then you certainly will also know the other side of the coin, all too well... This is when you seem to find every snake, and you haven't seen anything remotely like a ladder in ages. That could be when you're miles in front of race record pace, only to have some venomous buster come through, and not only rattle your cage, but try and shake the boat to pieces as well.

I can remember so well, even now, when decades ago we were ploughing down the West Coast of Tasmania, and falling off waves with the most monotonous of repetition. I was 'asleep' on a sail, not too far from the mast, and when we fell off one wave in particular, for I can remember counting past five, and just as we smacked into the bottom of the trough with a rib-cracking whack, I heard that terrible ping and tearing sound when metal gives way.

I told the Sailing Master and the owner, but given that I was persona non grata on that boat, they just sort of shrugged me off. In reality, I really should have been smarter, and not been on that boat in the first place, but there were reasons. All of that is another story. 'Awake' now, I returned to the gunwale, and sat it out like a good boy. Eventually, some of the brainiacs recognised that our speed was poor, and the torches started to shine up the sails. The rig looked like al dente spaghetti, as a plate inside that linked the D3s and the forestay etc had exploded. Game over for us. Time to go home under diesel.

So this little trip down memory lane came about as a direct result of seeing Jean-Luc Van Den Heede collect the win in the Golden Globe Race. Of course, there was only the one finisher in the original event, Sir Robin K-J, and that whole race was so intriguing for a plethora of reasons. So at 73 years young, and having just completed his sixth lap, huge congratulations are due for the Frenchman. Well done. You're in the record books now as the oldest solo, and unassisted racer, you wiped 100 days of the time, and you had daylight for second, too. Even being pitch-poled did not stop you.

Personally, I am still blown away at how so many took off for this race in old design, mid-30 footers with full keels, but there you have it. It was not all the land of milk and honey, either, for just five kept on going. One more, Russia's Igor Zaretskiy, will take out the Chichester Class when he finishes, after he stopped in Albany, Western Australia.

Compared to the nine that took off back in the day, in this iteration, four retired for personal reasons, one lost steering and five more were rolled and dismasted. They were rescued, so thanks to the emergency/military services that took care of them, two more stopped in Australia, and one more got to Cape Town under jury rig.

So if that was the elation, then the tears came when it was announced that Spindrift 2 was retiring from her Jules Verne attempt. She and her crew had blasted down to the equator, hauled in Cape Agulhas, both in record time, and looked set to do the same at Cape Leeuwin, as well, after setting off smartly across the Indian Ocean.

The damage to the starboard rudder has ended this attempt for them, which would be deeply disappointing, after having waited so long for the right weather to get under way. Sorry team. That would be a hard pill to swallow. Spindrift 2 and her crew of eleven are now en route to Australia to affect proper repairs. None of it stops us from taking on man's oldest challenge, and this is exactly the point I was aiming to make.

Tacking now. Massively. World Sailing is taking the best of the globe's male (75-90kg) and female (55 to 70kg) single-handed sailors to test the four selected craft for use in the Olympics from Paris onwards. These are the D-Zero, Laser Standard and Laser Radial, Melges 14, and RS Aero, and they will be evaluated in Valencia from March 11 to 15. The final selection and announcement will be made this year.

Now on a final note before we finish up, and given the number of sailors who are also powerboaties, it was very much a definite pleasure to get out our first ever Powerboat-World newsletter this week. Thank you for your great comments about it. Appreciated... It is currently going to be issued once a month, so please sign up if you did not get it, but would like to receive it, or send the link to someone you know that may wish to receive it.

Right oh, here today there are some gems for you to review. We have information about SailGP as the countdown to the inaugural event very much counts down, we completed our first date with the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490, IMOCA, J/Boats, 49ers and Nacra 17, Superyachts in Mallorca, Superyachts in Antigua, World Cup from Miami, Intel from North Sails, Farr 40s, Golden Globe Race, the mighty 18s, VX Ones, gear from Musto, NoR for the 2019 Para World Sailing Championship released, OKs, Brisbane to Hammo launch, Mitch Pearson brings us all the goings on from the AUS Windsurfer title on Lake Macquarie, take part in our Sail-World survey, the Maiden world tour, Waszps, 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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