Chapter 9- July 10, 2005
|We spent today with the racers. Over the past week since we arrived in La Rochelle we’ve
noticed a number of small boats with numbers on their sides pulling into
the marina and docking alongside our pontoon.
One of them had a Singaporean flag on it, which meant that further
investigation was needed. This
morning I finally saw someone on the Singaporean boat and decided to walk
over for a chat.
Elaine Chua, racing to Brazil.
It turns out that Elaine Chua is a Singaporean
woman who is racing in the 6.5 meter-class international competition.
There are 72 boats in the fleet and they are headed North to Brest
on Tuesday. Interestingly,
they have just come from Northern Spain where we are headed and we have
just been in Brest where they are headed.
Eventually they will turn around and leapfrog to the south of us
arriving in the Canary Islands before a final push across the Atlantic to
I guess while talking to Elaine I was mentally
“on-board” this racing idea in these little boats until the bit about
crossing to Brazil. When I
asked her how long she expected it to take she said the class record was
19 days and the longest crossing had taken 30 days.
Furthermore, she mentioned that they had SSB radios aboard for long
distance communication but they had been set to receive only and the
transmit function had been disabled to ensure no kibitzing among
competitors or shoreside help. At this point I shook my head and the word “insanity”
kept crossing my mind.
|The day before we had seen a fleet of very large
(72ft) racing boats fully decked out in their sponsor’s colors.
There was a sign that said today would be “open boat” day for
those interested in talking to the crews of the Global Challenge boats.
In sharp contrast to Elaine’s solitary efforts, 18 people man
each of the Global Challenge boats. Furthermore,
each of the things I mentioned Elaine does not have on her boat these
boats have in spades. Their life raft
is literally the size of Elaine’s boat.
Now, lest the above be mistaken as detracting from the Global Challenge and I be accused of libel let me point out that the Global Challenge is not chopped liver either. The event is sailed around the world by amateurs via both Cape Horn (South America) and Cape Good Hope (Africa). For those not of the sailing ilk suffice it to say that sailing around both capes brings big bragging rights back in the overstuffed armchairs of the local yacht club.
Global Challenge yachts, preparing for circumnavigation race.
Chatting with a Global Challenge crew.
We chose to board the Samsung sponsored yacht for
a tour because the skipper had received his Yachtmaster instruction from
none other than Bryan Walker – our instructor!
Small world. Bryan had
told us about this chap and said he was a real natural. (Not as much of a
natural as we were rest assured, but a natural nonetheless.)
Therefore, it was quite disappointing that he was off somewhere
else and couldn’t be located. However,
we did learn from the crew that the boats had just come from Boston, USA
and were headed on their final leg to Portsmouth, England in a couple
Postcript – Completely by coincidence we ended up departing La
Rochelle 10 minutes after the Global Challenge boats.
As they were making their way leisurely to the starting line for
the final leg home we motored past all of them and found the Samsung boat.
Pulling alongside we wished Nick and Lorainne (An American woman
who helped Nick show us around during our tour aboard) and the whole crew
a safe journey. When Lorainne found out we were enroute to Spain she feigned
jumping overboard saying she would rather come with us than sail North to
England… We had exchanged
e-mail addresses with her the previous day and hope to take her up on her
invitation to sail the San Francisco Bay on her boat when we return.
Global Challenge boats lining up.