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13 Mar 2020

Spinlock Brand Ambassador Blog

Race 6 by Timothy Morgan 

I’ve written before about how this race is an enormous mental challenge, often more so than physical and this race took that to the extreme.

Our stopover in Airlie beach saw our biggest crew change yet. It's amazing how well you get to know people in an ocean crossing; In a few weeks, you can often know people better than friends you've had for several years. Upon reaching land, more than once, I've found it sobering to have to say goodbye to people, creating an uncertain future in regard to seeing them again. On the upside, the new crew bring huge enthusiasm and new energy to the boat and for the first time, I had already met every new starter on our team in this change over - A perfect recipe for some messy nights out.

Once aboard the race didn't seem to want to start. It was delayed twice after a delivery of vital spare parts was delayed to certain members of the fleet and once more for lack of wind. I found myself hyped up for an anticlimactic delay twice. Similar to an athlete getting ready for a 100-metre sprint, then having to bring myself back into 'the zone' on both occasions to focus on what lay ahead. Unlike the 100 meters though, our challenge was to last 26 days, the third-longest of our entire circumnavigation.

The race began and within 12hrs we found ourselves drifting on the current. Not the most adrenaline-filled conditions but no let-up for the crew. To keep these boats moving in light winds requires constant trimming, sail changes and perfect helming with very little room for error. The new crew was put through its paces, however, I found it increasingly frustrating when those who had recently joined didn't understand the smaller details of how our boat carried out sail evolutions. Whilst no particular persons fault, it regularly felt to me that lack of knowledge constantly slowed the boat down and was made worse as the existing crew struggled to teach. Myself, in particular, had never had to teach anyone before and I found a steep learning curve on how to explain without confusing or coming across patronising. When combined with the heat and vacuum of any exciting sailing, a negative atmosphere began to break out on board.

There was one break to this endless wind seeking about a week out from arrival. We found ourselves surfing waves in 30 knots of wind one night when I was woken for the graveyard shift by our AQP calling down to skip Dave; "um... Dave I'm really sorry to wake you but we've broken the port steering cables". In short, the wheel was no longer connected to the rudder. Luckily our boats have a second helm (partly for such eventualities as this) however helming on the low side of a boat heeling at 30 degrees and surfing at 17 knots is a very wet experience. Our engineer fixed the issue the next morning but there's never a dull moment on Seattle.

The wind once again died off as we approached the finish line. We arrived into Subic Bay in the early hours and not our usual cheery selves. For the first time, I seriously considered giving up and flying home.

In hindsight, we should all (including myself) have been much more understanding of each other's challenges from the start. On the positive side, debriefs have made everyone much more aware of what needs to change. Time will tell but this is all part of the adventure.

Read more about Timothy Morgan here.

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