World with Catherine Nurrsaw
July 24, 2006
Well folks, I hate to cast aspersions but I can't help feeling that
some of you have not been doing your part in terms of crossing fingers
or holding thumbs. How else to explain our thoroughly disappointing
8th place into Jersey?
We had a cunning plan to win - oh yes, so cunning you could put a tail
on it and call it a fox. It was brilliant in its simplicity. We would
stay down in the South where a favourable current would add about 1 -
1 1/2 knots to our speed and where according to all the weather
forecasts there should be steady winds, while those foolish enough to
go further North would be battling with an adverse current and
constantly falling into huge windholes. We were quite sympathetic at
the thought of their plight, I can tell you.
Our sympathy diminished slightly as we fell almost immediately into
our first windhole of the race. Admittedly we were still drifting
forwards with the aid of the favourable current, but this hardly made
up for the fact that the other boats were roaring along in strong
winds. Never mind, we thought, looking at the next set of Grib files
(weather forecasts - now known to be an acronym for Generally
Ridiculously Inaccurate Bullsh*t) - think how silly they will all feel
when they get stuck in that huge windhole while we storm past them on
those strong winds that are just about to reach us.
Any time now those winds are going to reach us.
Yup, any time now....
I think it may have been about then that we made our record-breaking
run of 16 miles in 12 hours. Meanwhile, the boats further North,
blatantly ignoring all the weather information which we had which was
telling us that they were totally becalmed, were making runs in
excess of 100 miles per sched. It was, to put it mildly, a trifle
Considered in the light of a cruise, however, you could not have asked
for a better crossing of the Atlantic. Having left New York in
absolutely torrential rain I had thought that foul weather gear might
be the dress code for the entire trip. On the contrary, within a day
or so of leaving it was back to shorts, t-shorts and bare feet.
Without any tiresome wind to cool things down or make the boat tip
over, we could lie out on the sails on the deck and sunbathe - with
the sea as flat as a millpond there was no risk of being annoyed by a
wave splashing over you. We also saw plenty of marine life on this
crossing - hundreds of dolphins and porpoises, a couple of sharks,
sunfish sunbathing and waving a lazy fin at us, a couple of whales off
in the distance...
Lacking the competitive drive of some of my fellow crewmembers, I
actually enjoyed this crossing, though it would be unwise for me to
admit that in certain company. Plenty of good books to read, lots of
lying around in the sun, dolphins to watch almost every day, glorious
sunrises and sunsets - really not a bad way to spend a couple of
weeks! However, it was very hard on some of the crew who are
absolutely committed to finishing this whole race in first place, and
of course particularly hard on Craig, though he managed to stay very
cheerful and positive almost all the time.
Since WA finished in 2nd place (after New York) and we finished in
8th, they have now moved into 1st place overall, with us in 2nd and NY
in 3rd. For us to win the whole race we will have to do amazingly well
in the next race and a half (the race from Jersey to Holyhead counts
for full points but the race from there to Liverpool only counts for
half points) and WA would have to do rather untypically badly. I'm not
saying it can't be done, but it's certainly going to be a challenge.
And unless you guys are prepared to do your part this time, by
crossing every finger and holding every thumb regardless of cramps or
inconvenience, well, I just can't guarantee anything....
I've been having a wonderful time since we got to Jersey. My cousin
Helen has moved here with her family since I started this race, so the
first thing I heard as we approached the harbour was a shout of
"Catherine!" (which initially I hardly connected with me, since
everyone has called me "Cat" now for the best part of a year!). I've
been staying with Helen and family and they've been showing me around
the island, which is very beautiful. There have also been plenty of
Clipper activities - on Saturday evening we had a lovely picnic in the
Gerald Durrell Wildlife Conservation Park, and last night was the
prizegiving at Gorey Castle. It was wonderful - we could wander around
the castle at will, and there were volunteers in period costume giving
displays of musketry, archery, falconry and so on. There was nearly an
unfortunate overlap between the archery and the falconry when an arrow
shot over the wall and nearly made a falcon-kebab, but luckily no harm
This evening is a slightly less fun Clipper activity, as I have been
asked to help Craig with the appeal we are making against the award of
a penalty point for sail repairs. For the last year it has been a
running joke with my crew that I am a lawyer, and in spite of my
increasingly plaintive protests that I am not, Craig has decided that
I'll have to do when it comes to this appeal. I can only hope that at
some point in the proceedings a trade mark issue is going to come
Given our precarious position on the leader board, it is now very
important that we should win this appeal. So get in training right now
for crossing those fingers and holding those thumbs, and don't let go
until we finally reach Liverpool, please!
As ever, thanks to all of you that have sent e-mails and apologies to
anyone who has not yet had an individual response. I'll try to be a
better correspondent once all this is over and I'm back in England!
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