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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45 - Race 13 - Arrival in Salvador, Brazil  - July 2003

Back in the Atlantic Ocean, the final ocean that we have to negotiate, Race 13 was the start of the journey back to Liverpool. The crossing to Salvador would see us crossing all the lines of longitude, and see the completion of leg 5, leaving only the final leg to go. Everyone is now dreaming of home.

We set off under motor due to a complete lack of wind and started the race 18 hours later about 100 miles off shore. This would again be a tactical race as there were two options available to the crews - the first was the direct route, a shorter distance but with the great likelihood of being becalmed in the South Atlantic high pressure system which is a semi-permanent wind hole extending over many miles. The second option was to head north and avoid the South Atlantic high, but travel a much longer distance. The options were much like the second race, to Cuba, although upside down. We went for the longer route, following advice from the locals in Cape Town, and headed north.

The trouble with this route is that at the start, we looked as if we were doing very badly. We soon went to the back of the pack and it was a test of our faith in the route we had chosen to see how far north we would go before turning west. We obviously didn't have enough faith. We were joined up north by New York, Cape Town and Bristol - of the four boats, London arrived in Salvador last, watching the other three pick up pennants.

The further north we got, the stronger the wind got and the faster we went, and the wind stayed with us. Our fourth position stayed secure for the entire race.

We crossed the lines of longitude after about a week, which I have already written about, and we had a major broach with several days to go, which led to us losing our No 2 sail over the side (with a subsequent 3 point penalty) but the report written by Cookie describes this really well.

We arrived in the afternoon of Friday 18th, three days early - always good to get in early, shame we weren't able to do it in Cape Town.

Salvador and the samba beat

Salvador has been a very relaxing break in between two very long races. But despite taking it easy, I have still experienced as much of the samba spirit as possible.

Salvador is a beautiful city - if a little rundown - and reminds me of Havana from earlier in the trip. The old town, known as Pelourinho, is very beautiful, with churches absolutely everywhere, but with a dreadful crime rate - there have been several muggings and lost watches amongst the Clipper crews already. The rest of the city is equally fascinating.

We also went to a turtle reserve and the town of Praia do Forte, which was fantastic. The turtles are looked after along the entire coast, whilst the locals educate the visitors as to the importance of these creatures. The town is really relaxed and is a short distance from the first Portuguese property in Brazil, whose ruins are on the overlooking hill.

Religion has played a huge part in my visit. There are 365 churches in the city, one for each day of the year, and I have visited several in order to see for myself the fantastic architecture inside. There was also a visit to a Candomble ceremony, which is a ceremony where the participants become possessed by the spirits and go into trances - an amazing experience. We left after two hours, being told that they would stay possessed for as long as the spirits wanted to stay, which could be days. I was happy with witnessing only the first two hours.

But the main religion in Brazil is football. We went to see Bahia play Corinthians, an exciting 0-0 draw, with passionate supporters (especially our taxi driver), lots of flags, fireworks and drums. It was a really great experience and has whetted my appetite for a season of premiership football at Fratton Park.

Click here for diary 46 - The Final Welcome  - July 2003

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