Leg 7 Race 11 - Home Turf

Leg 7 Race 11 - Panama City, Panama to New York City, U.S.A.

Number of souls on board: 19

Distance sailed: 2,287nm

Number of days at sea: 13

Finish position: 11th


We had a short stop in Panama City. Just a couple of days. But enough time off to get some rest and explore Casca Vieja (the old town) and catch up with some Tawnie and David Farinez in their new home town. The old town in Panama is very cool, a nice rum bar (Pedro Mandinga) and some very cool rooftop bars. 

But the really exciting bit was the transit of the Panama Canal and crossing under the bridge of the Americas. This was slightly less spectacular than I imagined. With the locks being smaller than expected but the magnitude and understanding of the engineering feat and the impact on global economy that was driven by the building of the canal did not go missing. Plus it was ridiculous to have a 250ft container ship squeeze into the locks behind you, so tightly fit that there wasn’t even enough room for fenders down the sides of her hull. 

Once in the Atlantic and clear of the shipping lanes we had another Le Mans start to kick off Race 11. We missed a tactical opportunity to head east at the beginning and instead remained with most of the fleet heading north into the Caribbean sea. In the end this wasn’t the right call as we never got the right angle to tack back east and the boats that did go east initially all did really well in this race. 

In fact we made all our mistakes early with a few calls that unfortunately didn’t play out in our favour. You do what you can, analyse the weather and the information available and try to make the best call but it doesn’t always go to plan. Unfortunately throughout most of this race the old adage “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” has applied and once a boat has or starts to fall behind the weather systems haven’t been kind and these boats have fallen behind. Such was the case for us, with wind shifts and wind holes making our progression even slower. 

We spent the race of the race trying our best to catch the two boats in front of us but with no avail. However it was a fantastic race. Beautiful Caribbean sailing. Fast sailing for the most part. And great team work. Beautiful weather too. 

Plus we caught a fish finally! We have carried a fishing rod thew whole way round the world and this is the first fish we caught. Now admittedly we haven’t had the rod out that much. We lost all our lures on Leg 1 and we are often sailing too quickly or too slowly for fishing. But in Panama I bought some new lures and set it up. We had three strikes the second of which we landed. Who knows what it was. To me it looked like a snapper but was dark green, it had a beautiful white flesh and tasted amazing - any suggestions. 

We are now in New York exploring this amazing city. It is insanely overwhelming at times with the volume of people and the consumerism after a nearly a year of the complete opposite. I have been able to catch up with some good friends as well - Ash, Cas and Jeff plus the Estera Crew. We have got an awesome set up here. The boats are based at the Liberty Landing Marina on the New Jersey side and it is just a short ferry ride or subway trip across to Manhattan. 

We had a spectacular motor in in the dark being completely awe-struck by the lights of the Manhattan skyline, passed the illuminated statue fo liberty and Ellis Island. Unfortunately due to low tide we couldn’t immediately enter the marina and were therefore also afforded sunrise over these same views. Truly amazing. 

I also have to shout out Ali B who trekked all the way up here to surprise me. It was a complete surprising and really endearing to have such a good friend make so much effort. Al has been my biggest supporter and follower of this race, I’m so glad ~I could get to show him the boats and introduce him to my skipper, crew and the friends I have made on this race. It was just a shame he wasn’t here for a Liverpool podium prize giving!

Now we look ahead to final leg. Mixed emotions starting to rise already. It will be immensely sad to leave this circus show but after such an intense year I am certainly looking forward to a break and a change. I don’t think I will know how I really feel until it really is over - watch out for tears!