Nothing could have prepared us for the gale force winds we have just experienced over the last 5 days. We beat upwind with tide against us and though the skipper felt the conditions weren't too bad, none of us had sailed in such conditions before. The experience was all the more exciting because we were racing with much sail up.
Sea sickness began to take hold of several crew, some much worse than others. One had to take to her bunk for the duration of the race. At the same time we were learning how to safely get around a Clipper 70 both on deck and below. Hand holds essential. Cooking for over 20 twice a day plus breakfast suddenly became a major task at 45 degrees. We got through all this, supporting each other through our individual torments. The upsides were the most incredible seas, the weather improving and sighting of dolphins which would arrive in a pod and race us across the seas. At night the stars were clear and bright with a depth to them rarely seen on land.
The race finished in Portimão, Portugal at 4am in the morning having jostled for position in light winds. We came a creditable 2nd place which we were very proud of, and over the following 5 days came to realise that our boat had fared well with regard to sail injury and mechanical problems as others suffered problems including standing rigging breaking, and water ingress through the rigging plates. Here's to the next race.
David Gateley, Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon