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.
Final Diary News
The Final Leg - September 2003
The final leg of our journey involved two short races, firstly from Jersey to Holyhead, where the fleet got together again before a final dash to Liverpool and the completion of an adventure. We were still seeking our first win and we decided to go all out to get it.
The fleet set off from Jersey with considerably less wind than when we arrived and we all motored towards Lands End so as to beat the tides that would bring us all to a standstill. After another 18 hours of motoring, we set up for a start at 3am, in sight of England for the first time in eleven months. And we were off.
London got a great start and we pushed into first or second place early on. But with our sights set on a yellow winners pennant, we had to try something a bit different, so we headed inland for some shore breeze and tide. Several hours later, as we watched the rest of the fleet disappear into the distance, it became very apparent that we had made the wrong choice. Tide against us meant that we were over twenty miles behind the boat in 7th place. We arrived into Holyhead rather despondently at 7am on Friday in last place and headed straight for the nearest fried breakfast.
The race did settle a few things. Liverpool were guaranteed third place overall with their third place in that race. Jersey won the race so led overall by 1 point ahead of Bristol. Our race was now with New York to protect our 6th place overall.
Without wishing to be rude about Holyhead, which certainly has some very pleasant characteristics and is near to the mountains, it is not where I would choose to land for the first time on the UK mainland after nearly a year away. But our stay was a short one and it got us all together again for one last time before Liverpool. A pub lunch, a pint or two of Guinness and our re-adjustment to normality was beginning.
With Cookie’s 30th birthday the next day (the day we finished) it was the fleet’s chance to help him celebrate before he returned to his family. He was therefore dressed in a nun’s uniform with a big badge. Maybe he could help bring some divine intervention for London.
Our last chance for a yellow pennant in the shortest race of the year. We had led out of Liverpool eleven months before and were hopeful of leading the fleet back in. It was not to be though. Despite another great start, poor judgement on the right place to tack out of Holyhead left us in the middle of the pack. And that is how it stayed.
The fleet got to Liverpool in double quick time, escorted by HMS Edinburgh, and spent our last 8 hours of racing going round and round a circuit outside Liverpool waiting for the call to go in and cross the line. Whilst there was some jostling for places, it soon became a bit of a procession and with the wind dying, the race was called at 8am. We had beaten New York and protected 6th place overall. Jersey had beaten Bristol and were overall winners. The overall places were as follows:-
4th Hong Kong
7th New York
8th Cape Town
I had enjoyed the last two races despite our poor performance. The short races meant there was lots of sailing to concentrate on rather than the monotonous side of long ocean crossings. They were great fun despite our performance.
And so, after 37,000 miles and eleven months, I finally saw England in daylight again as we motored up the Mersey. On London, only three crew had made the entire journey and I was very proud to be one of them.
We followed HMS Edinburgh in to Liverpool. Royal Marines on RIBs came out to greet us and they were joined by Royal Naval patrol boats. As we got closer to the Albert Dock finish line, an air display was going on and more and more small boats came out to greet us. When we crossed the finish line, a cannon went off to confirm that we had completed our journey. Now just time for the champagne.
It was an overwhelming welcome. It did not seem like a year ago that we were setting off from there. It was wonderful to experience and it was difficult to take it all in. After a procession up the river behind HMS Edinburgh, followed by a tug which was letting off a water fountain, we headed into the Albert Dock one boat by one to the cheers of the thousands of people there to welcome us. This is what it must be like to be a superstar!
I stepped off the boat, got given a bottle of champagne, got asked for my autograph (I loved that!!) and had my photo taken by a northern couple who would soon be showing off about their meeting with a Round the World yachtsman. If this was my fifteen minutes of fame, I was loving every minute of it.
The celebrations began, with Rachel and our families enjoying all being back together again. The main Clipper party was disappointing, being aimed at the VIPs rather than the real VIPs, the crews, but that did nothing to dampen the mood. I was home at last.
So here I am, at home in London again, completing my journal for the web in the comfort of my own living room.
It feels wonderful to be home again, having achieved what I set out to achieve. And it is a fabulous feeling to be able to describe myself as a Round the World Yachtsman.
At times, the journey has been very hard but I am glad to have experienced all that has been put in front of me in this last year. I will remember all the fun times, all the places I have seen, all the catastrophes and how we coped and all the sunrises, the sunsets, the wildlife and the seas, the skys and the stars.
But to sum it all up, there is only one thing I can say.
There have been the highest highs, the lowest lows, I’d never do it again but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And it is great to be home.