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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34 - Race 11 - Across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius - May 2003

We finally reached the start point and set off at about 11am local time on 14 May from the Indian Ocean side of the Sunda Straight between Java and Sumatra.  The final part of the journey under motor had been under the shadow of some magnificent scenery and a huge volcano.

The race started in light wind conditions and, apart from a few tight manoeuvres in order to try to create space for ourselves, it was a slow start for London.  Everyone made straight for the favourable current some 300 miles from the start and remained within sight of each other for the first three days.

The wind and the current made an appearance on day 4 of the race and we eventually started moving at speeds Id forgotten the boat could do.  All of a sudden, the Distance to Go marker on our GPS machine is rattling down at a good rate, as we make about 10 knots an hour in a straight line to Mauritius.  As I write this, we are towards the back of the fleet but are progressing well and are hopeful that we will make some in-roads into the leaders in the next couple of days.

Inter-watch rivalry

To spice up life on board and create that little bit of extra competition, an inter-watch competition has been started to see which of the two watches is making the boat go faster towards Mauritius.  Set up by Si-Fi, who enjoys this kind of computer stuff, we have a complicated scheme to see who makes the most progress in terms of our Distance to Go.  Points are awarded to the most successful watch and the winning watch will be the one that accumulates the most points.  I am pleased to say that my watch currently leads by 7-5!  Jazz's watch is doing its best but they are just not up to scratch at the moment!

Mystic John

As we attempt to battle our way through the fleet, we are hampered by the lack of weather information which is supposed to come to us via the weather fax system.  But the good ship London has sought an advantage over the rest of the fleet - his name is mystic John.

JT, otherwise known as son of Robin Knox-Johnston, claims to have discovered weather forecasting skills he never knew he had since reading several pages of a book on cloud formations that he found in our library.  Since then, he will come up on deck and declare his forecast after looking at the clouds on the horizon.  He has an uncanny knack of getting it right too - but then anyone can predict wind and waves in the Indian Ocean!
John Kettley and Michael Fish can consider their jobs to be safe on JT's return to the UK from Mauritius.

Watermaker repairs

Our watermaker failed again with five days to go to the race finish.  This time, it was caused by the coupling that joins it to the generator breaking so that the generator could not power the watermaker.  Faced with more water rationing, Paolo and I got to work on a bodge job.

The same problem has already affected several other boats, including Liverpool, so we put into effect their tried and tested methods.  Out came the sail repair tape!

Unlikely as it may seem, sail repair tape has many uses and, together with lots of jubilee clips, it got the watermaker running after about three hours in the middle of the night.  Water rationing has been thankfully avoided.

Update on the race - the Indian Ocean

We are now about 200 miles from the finish, surfing down huge waves with a poled out No 1 sail.  Its great fun to drive the boat, especially at night when it is "seat of the pants" stuff as you can't see the waves coming and you are suddenly picked up and thrown forward at big speeds, the sea going everywhere.  Last night, I set the leg boat speed record of 17.6 knots.

The race has been disappointing though.  We are still at the back of the fleet and despite a few good scheds, we never seem to make permanent inroads into the leaders.  The seas and winds we are now experiencing are what we expected for most of the race, not just the last 2 or 3 days.  We were also told about the huge amount of wildlife we would see.  One dolphin is not a very good return.  The Indian Ocean does not do as it says on the tin.

Our last gasp effort to improve our position is by staying to the north of the fleet, which is what we have done, hoping that if the wind stays as it is, we will have a better angle round to the finish.  As we have been saying on board, it is not over until the fat lady sings!  But wait a minute is that her I can hear warming up?

Inter-watch competition

With 147 miles to go, Ossie's monks are beating Jazz's non-blondes by 26 - 19.  They think it's all over...

Click here for diary entry 35 - Race 12 - Welcome to our new crew

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