Leg 4 Race 4 - Fremantle, Australia to Sydney Australia
Number of souls on board: 21
Distance sailed: 3,028nm
Number of days at sea: 16
Finish position: 10th
So Leg 4 (the all Australian leg) is split into three races. Part 1 or race 4 saw us take off from Fremantle head south into the southern ocean again and round the bottom of Tasmania before turning to head up the Tasman sea to Sydney.
Fremantle had been a very hectic stopover. We were only there for 5 days after arriving very late due to the ordeal we had suffered on Leg 3. Whats more, due to all the damage suffered on Leg 3 across all the boats and the issues with the forestays the Clipper maintenance team were exceptionally busy and so almost the entire stopover was filled with maintenance work to get the boats ready. But the best bit was arriving into Fremantle tired and worn out and to have Kia and Christian waiting on the dock waving like idiots. I got to spend the evening and the next day away from the boats catching up and downloading. I may have bored the hell out of them but it was just what I needed and I can’t explain how nice that was. I also got to catch up with Mr. Alexander Blott aka Blotty…one of the truly greats.
I would love to tell you that the race was pretty uneventful. But that just doesn’t seem to be the way Team Liverpool 2018 liked to do things in 2017. First up we tore another spinnaker! This time it was our Code 3 which we had rigged to hoist and as we waited to double check with the skipper a big wave came over the bow and washed it over the side. When a spinnaker gets in the water it gets very heavy very quickly. It took a whole team effort to pull it back into the boat inch by inch and the drag it suffers in the water tore a huge whole into it. The wind strength was too much to fly the code 2 and we were just about to enter the Elliot Brown Ocean sprint.
Bugger. We were now screwed for the Elliot Brown Ocean sprint. And during the sprint we fell off the weather front we were being pushed along by letting the leaders gain extra miles and putting us into different following weather systems.
As we sailed further south into the southern ocean once again there was some joy. We saw some more typical southern ocean conditions than we had done on Leg 3. Big following waves and wind. Great fun and insanely hard and physical on the helm. I’m going to blow my own trumpet here but I am pretty chuffed with one mega effort where I put in 7 hours of helming in a 12 hour period. Matt Diaz eat your heart out! Pretty exhausting stuff.
But then disaster struck again. We had a broach. With the big man Nano on the helm fighting to recover it and his super strength we snapped a a link in the steering chain. Quick as a flash Nano sprinted to the other helm and recovered the boat. What a hero! As things settled down Fretts and Pretty Ricky dove into the lazarette for a couple hours and came up with the fix. Of course this wasn’t enough for Liverpool. Once recovered Lance, Claire and I were debriefing in the nav and I asked Lance what the plan would be if the other steering unit went. “That’s not going to happen” came his response….but 20 minutes later the woodruff key that translates the wheel movements to steering unit snapped and our poor pink panther was flying around in circles. Over the next few hours we battled to keep the boat under control and get some steering back. Another fantastic effort from the team.
The steering failure us further back in the fleet, missing another passing front. And so the real frustration began. As we sailed up the Tasman sea, passed the Bass strait and towards Sydney we met with wind hole after wind hole. The weather was a nightmare playing complete havoc. I was totally impressed with Claire’s efforts on the routing but on so many occasions there was so little she could do. Throw in a few adverse currents and we were yet again screaming at the sea to give us a break and slightly late arriving into Sydney.
It was all worth it though. I had been looking forward to arriving into Sydney since I signed up to the race. It is a sailing Mecca, Kia and Christian’s new home, it signalled Christmas time and the family coming to visit and is one of the most iconic cities in the world. Sailing into Sydney did not disappoint. The relief on either side of the harbour, the greenery, the bridge and the opera house was simply spectacular. With all the little bays, and the solid wind you can see why this place produces so many of the world’s best sailors - shame that didn’t include Redman.
We were lucky to be berthing at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Home and host club of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race. Docking up alongside and across from a number of elite and famous racing yachts started the buzz for the next race immediately. But first, some time off and mega R&R with the family….not to mention a haircut and getting rid fo the beard!