Campbell Field on Buckley Systems tells a bummer of a story from the GOR. And we hear that another Classe 40, Campagne de France, has also dropped out.
You would have seen by now the news that we are headed back to Auckland. A tough way to have a year of blood, sweat and tears collapse in front of you. Although cursing every minute of the last day or so of bashing and crashing upwind towards the ice gate, we had played it out pretty well we feel, had set ourselves up nicely and were as settled in as you could be in those conditions – a nice southerly position (not as far south as we would have liked but that is another discussion for another day), and very comfortable with where our nearest competitors were. I guess it was a small mercy to have the horrendous conditions entering Cook Straits at the end of Leg 2 so fresh in our memories as it took the edge off of and had us better prepared for the huge seas and 40+ knots were were facing.
We had a few failures as can be expected in these conditions – notably the 4mm thick stainless steel strap that connects our mainsheet block to the traveller car blowing up – quickly fixed with a lashing – but gives an idea of the shock loads we were putting through this tough old boat.
One huge wave, and the instant it started to happen I knew what had happened. We rolled into a crash tack then around into a crash gybe and another tack. Anyone watching from above would think we were taking a penalty turn. I was clinging on for dear life in the cockpit trying to simultaneously grab the tiller, disengage the highly confused pilot, hold on for dear life and figure out which way was up. All the while screaming in sheer rage at the situation. While I was venting my anger Ross was in agony in the cabin. On leg 2 he took a couple of tumbles that would have stretchered off any mere mortal, with a bruise on one hip that looked like someone had taken to him with a baseball bat. Coupled with a severe blow to the abdomen a few days later – was only acknowledged with a mere ‘that hurts a bit’ and ‘hope we have some more of those anti-inflammatories’. Tough old bugger my old man. Any other day I would have just said stubborn old bugger. So to see him in that much pain me ant we had an issue: facing the next 6000nm with one of us in agony and the loss of all wind instruments (if it was possible we would have repaired at sea) therefore effective pilot, seriously compromised our performance and safety.
So here we are, 1100nm from Auckland, riding the huge waves we previously spent 24 hours working so hard against in the other direction. They are just as big going this way so still having a few hairy rides at 19 kts with a triple reefed main and jib up.
All our friends, fans, family and supporters, thank you for your support and messages we have received. Will keep you posted on progress and the future as it unfolds.