I have a favour to ask, and I promise you, it’s really, really simple.
Visit Seattle is 3 weeks into Leg 6 of the Clipper race: the big Pacific challenge to Seattle. To date, they’ve been doing pretty well. Not first (let’s be realistic) but most importantly, not last! Woohoo!
That was, until, the bowsprit of the boat broke off again. For the third time in the Clipper race.
“Errrr, what is a “bowsprit”?” Would be an obvious question to ask right now. And if you are asking yourself this, it’s basically the big pointy bit that sticks out from the front of the boat that allows you to sail with “Spinnakers”: the big, puffed up sails you often see on yachts. These sails are pretty crucial if you want to sail fast when the wind is behind you, so without the bowsprit from which to sail them, Visit Seattle is going to be sloooow. Not necessarily super-slow, not necessarily last, but yes, last is very probable outcome.
Now Seattle is our home port and arriving into your home port in last place would be rubbish. So to give Visit Seattle a big boost, myself & Ali are trying to get 100 pictures of people from around the world showing their love for Visit Seattle.
We’re really chuffed that people have got on board and are showing their love for a Visit Seattle; look at this – it’s amazing! But this where I need you.
This will take 2 minutes:
Print off the “We love Visit Seattle” poster image below
That’s it, it’s happened: Visit Seattle have officially left Qingdao.
Next stop: Seattle.
Next stop: I GET ON THE BOAT!
Its now quite surreal to check on the race viewer and know that I’ll be joining the crew at their next stop. Normally, stopovers are all about gleaning remotely as much as you can about the previous leg. Blogs are read, messages exchanged and over the last few months in particular, exclamations about how quickly the race is progressing. I’m going to particularly miss Emily this leg as we’ve been constantly messaging throughout the race. How rude of her to go and sail the Pacific for 4 weeks.
Luckily, there is still a good bunch of Visit Seattle crew & co back in these lovely climes to get excited with about the rest of the race. This week saw another feast, this time celebrating all things China. Well, I say that. Celebrating Chinese food, tea and beer specifically.
This meal coincided with the race start to Leg 6: probably the toughest leg of the race. I’ve already received emails from the crew asking when we’ll all be available to help in Seattle: they might be just a tad tired after this race. I’m hoping this is where my super-enthusiastic style can help buoy people up (or alternatively be somewhat annoying. Note to self: don’t be annoying).
So, prep for Seattle!
Step 1: Whip up excitement a la Social Media.
This is the BIG STOPOVER. The name of the next port is on our boat. So, it’s time to make sure everyone is sufficiently excited over the next 4 weeks through going OTT on Twitter (follow @VisitSeattleRTW).
Step 2: Buy kit. Lots of kit.
Now, most people that know me have sussed out by now that the main reason I’m doing this race isn’t for the challenge. No, it’s not for the epic adventure, the awesome camaraderie or the retrospective fun. It’s for the technical kit. Oh yes.
Ever since I was a tiny child, I have known that the key to a fulfilling, happy life is accumulating as much technical kit for very-specific-outdoor-conditions as possible. The warm, cosy glow you get from using said kit in said very-specific-outdoor-conditions is only enhanced when your beloved partner doesn’t have said kit and is therefore slightly less comfortable. Unfortunately, I’m usually one step behind in the kit arms race that this ultimately creates, but not anymore! (I’ve just been told that sailing kit doesn’t count in the arms race. Oh.)
Anyway, even though my kit-glow has just been taken down a notch, there’s still a fair bit to get. I now have several sheeps worth of merino, sexy hiking/sailing sandals, a bag almost big enough for me to fit inside (I’ve tried) and enough Stugeron to keep sea sickness at bay for hopefully a long, long time. I’m particularly pleased with the mid layers I’ve recently acquired: they look like a tracksuit but act like a duvet. What’s even better is that despite being huge, they just squeeze under my foulies. ‘Operation Snug’ has begun. All I need to do now is track down some serious socks and a “Ninja buff” recommended by Leo and I might never need to wear anything else again, ever. Life will be complete.
Step 3: See loved ones
With just 4 weeks to go now, this is the most important of my task but time is already getting tight to see everyone before I go. Time?! Life! Going! Where?
Looking at my diary now, it feels like I’m going to be away for a long time even though it’s not really. Friends will have had children in the time I’m away. Wow.
So there you go: my 3-step plan to Seattle. Just a couple of bits missing but they are only minor details. I’ve now got just 4 weeks until this whole huge adventure steps it up a gear.
The last 3 months or so have been a an intriguing combination of becoming evermore detached from the race followed by the rapid realisation that Leg 7 is now nearly here.
I’ve almost been in denial that it’s happening, but today, Visit Seattle arrive in Qingdao, China. The next arrival for them will be in Seattle in 5 weeks time. 5 WEEKS! How have the timescales become so short?! I probably won’t be there to welcome them in (unless they do really, really badly. I hope they won’t), but apparently, I will be getting on the boat and sailing home with them.
It’s becoming so real now that whilst writing this, I’ve actually quite become quite nervous. I’m not sure why. Yes, there’s still a lot to do to get ready (warm weather gear being the great unknown. I’ve never been in the super-warm before) and lots of people to see before I go. But nervous? I think it’s the concept of seeing everyone on the boat again: it’ll have been 7 months after all.
So, Visit Seattle should be arriving into Qingdao in the next 30mins. You should be able to see it live here: https://www.periscope.tv/ClipperRace