Diary of a Clipper Racer

Around the world in 333 days with Mark Osgood

Supporting my chosen charity - "Dreams Come True"

Final Diary entry, 54, added Monday 6th October 2003.

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10 - Race 1 - Liverpool to Lisbon (Portugal) - Monday 28th October 2002 to Tuesday 5th November

Twenty four hours late but we finally set off from Liverpool on Monday 28th October. The weather was much better than the day before and was perfect for racing.  Despite the start being on a Monday, there was an extraordinary number of people to see us off.  After several circuits of Albert Dock, we went through the lock onto the River Mersey for the last time for eleven months and got ready for the start.

The Admiral got us off to a flyer.  We were several hundred yards ahead after racing round the cans and heading out to sea.  We were not, however, helped by a

We stayed near the front as we set off down the Irish Sea, although the wind blowing directly from where we wanted to go made progress slow.  The leader changed regularly and the race position radio schedule every twelve hours became a vital part of the day,

The wind got up for the first of several times during the run down the Irish Sea and the ride became bumpy, with the boat heeled over heavily and the bow crashing through the waves.  But that was nothing compared to what  the Bay of Biscay had to offer.  A force 9 gale blew in for over twelve hours and it was a case of hanging on as we crashed onwards towards Finisterre

London maintained a good showing on the way down.  We never dropped below fifth place and we were often in the top three. Others did not fare so well - Cape Town had to pull in to Milford Haven for repairs on the first night after they wrapped their spinnaker around the rigging and Liverpool retired from the race for a variety of reasons including a back injury to one of their crew.  Glasgow also had a spinnaker wrap but managed to continue even though it took ten hours to sort it out.

Once we rounded Finisterre and headed down the coast towards Lisbon, the weather changed dramatically and up went the spinnaker and and out came our shorts and shades.

The final two days to the finish line in Cascais, was a close-run thing between four boats.  The positions changed all the time, but eventually Hong Kong won, just seven minutes ahead of Jersey.  We came in next, a podium finish, followed by New York just ten minutes behind.  After over 1200 miles, there was only an hour between first and fourth positions.

Life on Board for Race 1

The first race for me was a very tough week.  The conditions were rough anyway but I was suffering from a chest infection and was ill for the entire journey.  This was on top of saying goodbye to Rachel and my parents for a year which was extremely hard.  There were many times in that first week that I wondered what the hell I was doing and there were a couple of times where I would have walked if I could have.

As the wind was directly on the nose for most of the trip, the boat was constantly heeled over at an angle and crashing through waves, making sleep virtually impossible and life below decks very uncomfortable.  We were on watch for 4 hours at a time during the night and 6 hours at a time during the day.  It always seemed to rain when we were on deck for the first few days and at the end of the watch, so it was always a rush to get out of the wet kit and into the sleeping bag as quickly as possible.  Inevitably, sleeping bags and bunks soon got wet as well and we remained damp and cold for the entire week.  There's nothing worse than waking up and having to stick wet socks and clothes back on before facing the elements.

As I recover in Portugal now, those moments seem a long way away and I am looking forward to the next race starting.  It's true that you quickly forget the bad bits.  There were some truly amazing moments on the trip that I will not forget: the start, like having 50,000 people watching London leading the fleet, the intensity of the racing in the last twelve hours of the race and the closeness of the finish.  Even during the storm in Biscay, it was impossible to ignore the awesome power of the sea and the elements (in between the waves of sheer terror!).  And I will never tire of seeing dolphins swimming alongside us.  Nor will I forget Stan.  Stan was a sparrow who landed in the cockpit on day 3, clearly lost, exhausted and close to death.  He nestled in the corner under the winches and we left him there for 12 hours with a bit of bread and a cup of water.  He soon recovered enough to fly away, fully fed and rested.

Stopover no 1 - Caiscais, near Lisbon in Portugal

How good was it to get ashore!  We were welcomed by the race committee with local beer, Superbok, a throwback to my Part A & B training and then were directed to a local late night boozer for a top up.

Having arrived on 5 November, just (12.05am), we had 5 days to get ready for race 2,.  The first thing to do was a deep clean of the boat and a full maintenance check, which took a day and a half - far too long!  We then had two days to ourselves.

I played golf on my first day off as part of the Clipper golf tour that is developing.  London laid down the challenge to New York and Glasgow - and subsequently lost quite heavily.  London's reps, Jimbo, Hatbox and myself need a lot of practice.  The second day was for relaxing.

The evenings were lively.  Everyone from my Part A training had a reunion and there was also the presentation evening which was a full sit down meal with all the crews and the presentation of the pennants for first, second and third.

I am now ready to move on to Race 2.

Our leggers for Leg 1

Leg 1 comprises two races, from Liverpool to Portugal and then on to Cuba. 

legs.  They are as follows:-

Caroline Chapman (aka Chappers) is on board with us until Hong Kong, the half way point of the race.  Chappers was on my Part A training with me and I have known her now for a year.   Celebrity look-a-like is Kristen Scott-Thomas.

Andrew Hatley (aka Hatbox) is with us for the first two legs until we reach Hawaii.  The boat's resident Del Boy, as a result of his wheeling and dealing, Hatbox was behind our crew kit as he knew someone who knew someone who could do us a deal - or something like that.  Celebrity look-a-like is to follow.

James Arden-Davis (aka Jimbo) is with us until Cuba and then rejoins us in Mauritius for leg 5. Jimbo is also one of our boat secretaries.  His drinking powers are already legendary - he is also known as "Drinks like Cactus".  Jimbo’s Celebrity look-a-likes include Frank Skinner and Roland Rat.

Bob Spruce (aka Disco) is with us until Cuba.  Disco is our on board pub singer who will burst into song at any given moment with his own unique style. He sang a little medley whilst helming at the height of the storm in Biscay.  Celebrity look-a-like is Bob Hoskins.

Mavis Dowling (aka Mave) is also with us until Cuba.  Another person from my Part A course whom I have now known for a year.  Celebrity look-a-like is Crystal from Dynasty.

Samantha Kidwell (aka Saucy) won one of the competition places to be on the London.  She was due to be with us until Cuba but has found out that she can

stay on board until Hawaii - to say that she is excited is understating it slightly.  Sam is the youngest member of our crew (19) and we are still trying to find a celebrity look-a-like for her.  

 

Click here for diary entry 11 - Lisbon to Havana, part 1

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