I almost can’t believe it, but Ocean Planet has finished the Around Alone.
Last night was my first night of sleep in a while, as there was really no time to nap yesterday with the arrival of Brad and them Emma. They both had big press conferences which were fun. I was asked up at the end of Emma’s show to answer some questions, talk about my own finish, and we talked about our involvement in the Global Education Challenge with HSBC. It is fun to be able to pass on our adventures to kids (of all ages), and I hope to continue doing this!
The last night and morning before the finish was in hideous conditions as we made our way almost directly through the center of the low pressure storm. I tried to use the changing wind angles at the center of the low to cut the sailing distance to the finish, and I hoped that Thierry’s northern hitch would see him get hung up in a small trough that the weather models showed MIGHT form. If I had followed him, I would have been clobbered on the reach in to the finish anyway, so my strategy was worth a try. But the wily Thierry proved luckier than I and zoomed north over the top of Brad and I to take third place. Oh well!
As if to make up for it, I was given a special greeting back to the East Coast by a huge group of Pilot whales that followed Ocean Planet for miles, cavorting and leaping and splashing and celebrating life in the big seas that were still running. What a show! They were much bigger than dolphins but showed the same energy and spirit in greeting us.
The wind slowly died and clocked to the west as we approached Newport, so we had to tack twice to make the harbor. Fishing boats and various ships went about their business but none came too close… I took my last tack a few miles out, and it turned out that I hit the layline perfectly….slicing smoothly under the sliver of a moon on the cool night. Ocean Planet moved well in spite of the very light breeze. Slowly the lights of one of the few boats nearby headed directly for us….suddenly spotlights illuminated our sails and several voices rang out “HAAAAAY BRUUUCE!!!!!”. It was the race committee boat, and then two photo boats including the ever present Around Alone photographer Billy Black, all there to greet us. The boats were crowded to the gunwhales and equally full of spirit. What fun! I unrolled our big “Borland” genniker to cross the line in style and lit a couple of hand flares in celebration…..
There was a surprising number of people at the dock in spite of the late hour. The rest of the night was spent in the race communications office (all the local bars had closed) in a goofy party with Bernard, Simone, along with several of their team members and around alone race team friends…. I slept maybe an hour and half on the boat and then got up to greet Brad who had gotten hung up the light air behind me. Later in the day Emma came in and it was good to greet them both after this long, long trip.
The funny thing is, I feel as though I really haven’t finished, but that I have just started again. I don’t know where to start thanking people for helping to create Ocean Planet to finish this race. I think I will work on that for tomorrow’s update! But to all my supporters: THANK YOU. Also thanks to the hardworking Around Alone team, including Kels, Mary, and writer Brian Hancock. Check out Brian’s new book “The Risk in Being Alive” that just came out, I’ve been enjoying it myself…
Cavorting whales, OP back at the dock, Wilson and Priscilla (appearing by popular demand at the finish) sunbathing…..
Bruce and Ocean Planet