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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29 - Hawaii to Hong Kong via Japan - March 2003

Surely, the third time will be the last time.  We have now competed in three long (three week plus) races and after excellent showings on the first two weeks of each race, we were dealt a bad hand with the wind and finished way down the pack.  The expected northerly winds which would have given us a huge advantage over the rest of the fleet never materialised until we had crossed the finish line - we lost our first place to Hong Kong and then went gradually down the fleet, finishing in sixth place. 

However, the race was put in perspective when a serious injury occurred on board.  Our race finished about fifty miles before the finish line when Jazz suffered a serious back injury. 

Air, Sea, Rescue

I'd just finished a watch at 2am, with about 50 miles to go to the finish.  The wind had gone very light and we were considering a sail change when the wind suddenly picked up and the boat heeled suddenly and heavily.  Jazz was standing on the high side and was catapulted violently onto a winch on the low side, crashing onto her lower back.

It was immediately clear to everyone that it was serious, but the wind had whipped up and we had to stabilise the boat before we could do anything for Jazz.  So Dave and Chappers held onto her to prevent her from moving and the rest of the crew worked at bringing the boat under control.  It wasn't easy with over 35 knots of wind and it took the best part of an hour to stop the boat, get the sails down so that it remained stable and then use one of the floorboards from the forepeak as a solid stretcher to move Jazz out of the cockpit and in to the relative safety of the saloon area.  All the time, Jazz was clearly in a great deal of pain. 

I was impressed with the way that every crewmember did what they had to do in a calm and sensible manner to make Jazz as comfortable as possible as quickly as possible.

We were 50 miles from the finish but the marina was over 50 miles beyond that.  It was still blowing a gale and we had to get Jazz to a hospital as quickly as possible.  The quickest way to get the boat from A to B is to sail so up went the sails again and off we went with the bare minimum of a crew on deck and the rest looking after Jazz down below.  All the time, Rory, who was excellent throughout, was talking to doctors and the race director by telephone in order to seek guidance as to what to do for the best.

By day break it had been decided that Jazz should be airlifted off the boat. I'd seen an airlift when the good ship London was used for a demonstration with the UK Coastguard before we left.  I didn't expect to see another one, or have the chance to compare how a different country organises it.  But at about 11am, a helicopter arrived and out jumped two Japanese paramedics, in full snorkel gear, into our dinghy and then on to the boat. 

Ultimately, it was decided to leave her on board, for fear of further damaging her back, so the Japanese paramedics stayed with us - not a favoured option for either of them as it turned out as they were both very seasick.  Seemed quite calm to me!

The Japanese are well known for their efficiency, but to say that I was impressed with what they did for Jazz would be a massive understatement.  We sailed and then motored towards the nearest port in Japan and were escorted all the way by the helicopter until we were met by two coastguard ships who took over the escort.

As we arrived in a little fishing port on the outskirts of Tokyo Bay, several fishing vessels helped to guide us into the port, where we were met by an ambulance and a fire engine.  Within minutes of the lines being made, Jazz was on her way to hospital.

Fortunately, Jazz was found to have severe bruising rather than any breakages.  She's due to re-join us when we leave Hong Kong.  For everyone else, it was yet another experience during a very eventful race.  We were just glad to arrive.

Japan with Ma and Pa Osgood

It was great to see Ma and Pa Osgood when we finally arrived, there to greet me on the pontoon.  I had a fantastic few days away from the boat, seeing Kamakura, Yokohama and Tokyo with Mum and Dad.  Japan is a fantastic place; the people are incredibly friendly and helpful and it was wonderful stopover.  It was a shame to have such a short time there.  But it's another place on my list of places to re-visit!

Race 7 - Japan to Shanghai

Another short race and another pennant.  We are fine as long as the race is less than two weeks long!

It was an interesting race, as we had land in sight most of the way, with the course running along the Japanese coast before turning west towards China at the end of the Japanese mainland.  We started off at the back of the fleet but pushed ourselves into third place during an intensive twelve hour period during which we tacked back and forth to get through the southern most islands of Japan.  After that, it was a drag race to the finish line.

It was great to get on the podium again, after Glasgow in first and Jersey in second.  Just a short wait until a shower in Shanghai - or not!

Shanghai - nearly

It was always planned that the fleet would anchor at the end of the Yangtze River and wait to be piloted towards the mooring in Shanghai.  We didn't expect to be there for as long as we were, but unforeseen events meant that our berths were no longer available, and as such we were unable to get as far as Shanghai.  There was no option put to head on for Hong Kong. 

Race 8 - Shanghai to Hong Kong

We are on day two of the race and are flopping around in no wind, about 600 miles away from the finish.  There's loads of chatter between the boats over the VHF radio due to the boredom and everyone is pretty much in sight, going nowhere.

We have managed to get into third place again and are pushing for first - but at this rate, it's going to take a long time to get there.


Click here for diary entry 30 - Shanghai to Hong Kong

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