Clipper Race. Life aboard Zhuhai

Nick Leggatt.
pic by imagecomms.com

by Richard Crockett

I have always found this to be a very difficult race to follow and cover as news is sporadic, and actions pics few and far between, and pics of life aboard – well … !

So today here, first hand, is what life is like aboard Zhuhai, skippered by South African Nick Leggatt.

Leggatt posted the following extract yesterday:

“Is this as hot as it’s going to get?”, one of the team asked me today.

It certainly was hot and humid, but unfortunately I had to correct him and let him know that this was actually going to be the coolest day we can expect for a while. The Doldrums are going to be blisteringly hot.

During our midday “Happy Hour” team meeting, we discussed the dangers of the heat and sun, precautions to take and warning signs to look out for. Luckily one of the team, Nassor el Mahruki, is from Zanzibar, which has a similar climate to that which we are currently experiencing. He was able to offer some first hand tips and advice, including recommending wearing a damp cloth under your hat when you come on deck.

Not only is the weather hotting up, but so is the racing, as we all start to converge on the Doldrums Corridor. We gybed yesterday morning, perhaps a little later than we should have, as our course took us directly towards Sao Nicolau Island at the northern end of the Cape Verde archipelago. We really had to sail a tight line to squeeze around the eastern end of the island soon after sunset. With the exceedingly high humidity reducing visibility, we never saw the island, even though we passed no more than 10 nautical miles off.

Now we have Fogo and Brava Islands about 40 nautical miles ahead. We should see them at sunrise as Fogo is a 2,829m high active volcano. Having seen Fogo previously I can tell you that if you ask a child to draw a picture of a volcano, they will probably give you a pretty accurate sketch of Fogo! It really is the classic volcano shape.

These bits of land are the last that we can expect to see before reaching the other side of the Atlantic.

Pan Yue will be coming on watch shortly with her usual greeting: “Captain, I have just one question…”. I better start reading up about volcanoes, the Cape Verde Islands, and Tropical Revolving Storms before she wakes up! At least she keeps me awake and alert, as I need to be on my toes in anticipation of her next “one question”.

Cheers, Nick

Zhuhai crew member Harriet McDonald.

His crew, well in particular Harriet McDonald with co-writing by Sophie Cross, Robert East and Ina Baum, penned this piece about the crew:

The Perfect Gybe

1 – Preparation:
Fall asleep on deck, run out of things to talk about, run out of stars to look at in the sky, seen one dolphin seen them all, seen one flying fish seen them all, seen one whale seen them all, had enough checked out. Just snuggling into a nice dream as Skip appears saying those fateful words “standby to gybe”.

2 – Execution:
Panic attack and several litters of kittens. Bellow to below, pray that the standby watch can jump onto the deck and actually know what they are doing. All move to the easiest task available on deck. If not available slip off to the heads, off to do the log. Standby, clambers onto deck sleepy eyed so we shove them onto the scariest task such as removing the foreguys. Keep out of Skips eye line and clench buttox tightly.

On Skipper’s command “ready to gybe”. Stress levels rise to a new high, blood pressure rises, everyone weeping including the Skip in our inability to sail. He mistakes the sound of our weeping as a confirmation that we are ready. Faithful words “big ease Harriet”, sheets and sails flapping like mad. Random shouting “grind, ease, grind, grind”. The deck bunnies (Sophie, Dave, Robbie and Callum) bouncing around the deck, obviously clipped on, doing the high risk adrenaline flowing jobs. The boat swings around, miraculously the spinnaker ends up on the other side of the boat, weeping ceases.

3 – Tidy up:
Buttox unclench, panic attack subsides, blood pressure down. “Perfect gybe” from Skipper, the crew can never tell if this is sarcastic or not. Blue watch hunkers back down to bobos. We are Zhuhai.