it is what it is

Isn’t it interesting how life creeps up on us? I remember when I was a kid and they built a new ring-road around the town where I grew up. I thought that they were crazy. There was hardly any traffic on it but these days it’s bumper to bumper. It just happened, slowly and inexorably. The traffic and jams of daily life just crept up on us until now we feel that it has always been like that. It’s a mind bender and it’s not good.
I have had a similar sensation following the Golden Globe Race. That’s the one that started in early July from France recreating the original Golden Globe Race that took place 50 years ago.  The sailors have to sail in similar boats to the ones that they had back then, navigate with a sextant, use a wind vane and pretty much step back in time. When the race was first announced I was thrilled. It seemed like the perfect antidote to our fast paced life but I have to tell you I am having a hard time following things and the problem is me, not the event.
Here’s the problem. For the better part of the last year I have been following the Volvo Ocean Race tuning in daily to get the latest news, position reports and incredible drone footage of the boats pummeling through the deep south. It was thrilling and myself, like many others, could not get enough of it. Now I tune in to the Golden Globe and it really is less interesting than watching paint dry. Boat speeds are in the four knot range. The sailors have been out there three weeks and  have not yet reached the equator. The leader, Philippe Péché still has well over 22,000 miles to go. This is excruciating and again the problem is me, not the race.
In my early teens I followed the Cape to Rio races. The start was broadcast live on radio (the country did not have television) and each day our local paper posted the latitude and longitude of each competitor. I had a large piece of cardboard and I mapped the positions of each boat watching them slowly creep across the South Atlantic. It was thrilling. I made up stories of what it was like for the sailors and dreamed that one day I could be out there myself. I could not wait for the newspaper man to come by and with bated breath opened the paper to the sports section to get the positions. I followed two races in the 70s then in 1979 hopped aboard one of the boats and lived out my dream. I never went back.
What have we become that we can’t relax and enjoy the amazing exploits of these pioneering sailors? Maybe it’s just me but I have a suspicion that I am not the only one. If it’s not coming in live 24/7 accompanied by incredible video and heroic deeds it’s just not interesting enough. Is that what it is?  I dunno. The world has changed, we have changed and that makes it all the more remarkable what the Golden Globe sailors are doing.
They know about the Volvo Ocean Race. They know that one sailor can solo circumnavigate in 42 days. They know that with the push of a button they can get their position accurate to a couple of feet. They know that an iPhone can hold enough movies for them to watch a different one each day yet they chose to go out there in a time warp and do it for the pure love of sailing. These sailors are heroic and need to be celebrated as such. All except the one who quit just days into the race stating that he didn’t know it was going to be so lonely out there. Jeez duh!
I guess that we just need to accept that our DNA has once and forever been altered. The genie is out of the bottle and there is no stuffing it back in again. I know for sure that I couldn’t sail alone around the world on a 35-foot full-keel sloop without any modern conveniences. This coming from someone who has sailed solo across the Atlantic and enjoyed every minute of the auto-pilot steering and the push-button navigating.
The only real ‘incident’ was when I didn’t email my wife with a daily update. It was a Sunday, the wind was at my back and the beer was cold and I decided that I was not going to boot up my computer. When she didn’t get a message from me she started to freak out and I think that was probably the start of the end of that marriage…
So I am urging all to follow the Golden Globe Race even if it’s not as full-on as the Volvo Ocean Race. Put yourself in the position of the sailors who have put themselves in the position of throwback pioneers. Enjoy the race for what it is. A true sailing adventure. – Brian Hancock.