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Half Time! Awaiting the landfall of Cyclone Kirrily!

Updated: Jan 23

Happy ‘much delayed’ New Year! It has been over a month since I last reported from Fremantle, Western Australia as we have now completed Leg 4 down and around Australia, first to Newcastle, then northward to Queensland! I am currently in Airlie Beach (pronounced ‘aylee’) and we’ve been here just about a week…we were to set sail today, Monday, January 22nd, but are delayed until at least this coming Friday, January 26th as we wait landfall and the passing of Cyclone Kirrlily which is/has formed in the Coral Sea…it is directly in our path, and like any good mariners, our race office has postponed the start of Leg 5 (of 8 legs) until this Friday. But I’m getting ahead of myself…let’s do a ‘half time’ report, where we’ve been and where we are going!


A Quick Recap of Our Race ‘To Date’ - By the Numbers

Philanthropy Update

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start out with a big ‘thank you’ to all of you who have donated to my race philanthropies in 2023. Thank you! We have raised a total of $7500 across both our UNICEF and Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Great progress and I thank all of you. As we enter 2024, please consider these two great organizations for your philanthropic giving for this year. I’ll be racing through July and at the halfway point of Leg 4, the entire Clipper fleet has raised over GBP 330K for UNICEF! We can raise more and I hope you will consider my philanthropies as you do your planning. My goal is still $20K per charity to align with each nautical mile of the circumference of the earth. Thanks!


Qingdao Racing

After 4 legs, 3 skippers and 6 races we are currently in 10th place overall. We’ve covered over 20,000 miles, sailed the English Channel, Bay of Biscay, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, down in to Roaring Forties, across the Great Australian Bight, and up the coast of Australia, doing the reverse course of the Sydney-Hobart Race and tangling with the East Australian Current (remember “Finding Nemo”? Same current, just going in the opposite direction which makes for challenging sailing!). Our team has managed a lot of change, created a great environment, have beaten every boat in the fleet…our time for the podium is coming and we have no doubt with our new leaders, Skipper Phil and First Mate Henry, that we’ll move up the rankings. We are a fast boat, and with a reduction in unforced errors (some dramatic sail damage and penalties) that we’ll make a strong comeback in the second half. With over 20K more miles across 4 remaining legs, we have plenty of time. The fleet considers us an amazing boat for the team we’ve put together in extraordinary circumstances and we are focused on continuing to win. We placed 4th in this last leg, 2nd in our first race, and middle of the pack in the others. Stay tuned to the race tracker/viewer…we are going to be in the mix!


Thoughts on the Race

What have I learned in the last 20K miles? That’s a tough question…my mom asked me what has been the hardest part…another tough question. Maybe I’ll start with “I wouldn’t trade this for the word!”, but ‘yes’ there are times when it is really hard. It might be the weather, close quarters with people, sails blowing up, heat, cold, wet, exhaustion, boredom, beauty…every emotion you can think of. Sometimes it feels like “just a job” and it can be…we are out there to race hard, safely and ‘bring the ship in’. It has also been amazingly beautiful: the waves, the colors, sunrises/sunsets…alone with one’s thoughts. Racing is hard…it isn’t a ‘cruise’ and we aren’t cruising…when your competitor is 3 nm behind you after almost a thousand miles of racing, you are intensely focused on every action and maneuver…they are hunting you, you feel it, and the focus is wonderful…particularly when you hold them off and beat them!


In terms of my ‘favorite’ moments, I’ll try and describe a few of them, in no particular order (nor a fully complete list):


Christmas and New Year’s

Yes, I missed my family and friends tremendously on these holidays. We were in the Southern Ocean, below Australia, working our way to Tasmania. We were in some light wind/wind holes after beating Perseverance to the scoring gate…a nice win for us. Christmas was amazing with decorations, Secret Santa gift giving, the arrival of Santa Klas, and wonderful meal. New Year’s Eve was especially memorable because the winds were perfect, the moon full and rising and the beauty of the ocean, sublime. I will never forget this night of sailing.


Friends

20,000 miles…a lifetime of experiences at sea. We don’t accomplish this alone. The people I’ve met, the friendships made…unforgettable. This is one reason we do this as we can’t do it alone. Klas, Jo, Rob, Greg, Zack, Will, Maso, Steve, Jeronimo, Alex, and many others…all have added to my experience, and I too, hope I’ve added to theirs. The highs and lows we have taken together over this first 20K miles and 4 legs are uncountable le. I look forward to sailing with all them in the second half.



Family and Supporters

There is no question that each of this on the race cannot do it without the support of family, friends, and supporters. My family has been supporting me emotionally, financially, and keeping the lights on at home, all with tremendous amounts of love. My friends are in my thoughts every day…their cards they sent to me a joy to read, and the q1uiet moments on land where I can catch up with social media, a great way to reconnect. And new friends, the “supporters” who meet us in each port, we couldn’t do it without you. To all of you, I say ‘thank you’! We are sailing for ourselves, but also for you, as you believe so much in our adventure.




Ocean Beauty

We have traveled across and seen so many different ocean conditions, from the sea being angry and grey, to flat calm, to wet and squally. I have several moments where the beauty of the ocean has been mind boggling: a cold, absolute starry night off of Uruguay where the sea was alive with phosphorous and dolphins, to the peaceful moon rise of Christmas and New Years. One of my favorites is this video…it mid-afternoon and we are working our way around Tasmania…the seas were huge, the squalls and surfing amazing, with beautiful blues, whites and turquoise. The boat was handling well and we were joyful in our sailing…this is why we do this. Unfortunately I can’t upload it so I’ll leave you with this glorious sunrise a few days after Christmas…we are working our way out of a wind hole after winning the scoring gate, and working mightily to get farther south and into higher winds.


After rounding Tasmania we battled the East Australian Current to work our way up to Newcastle. After a few days off, we did short 6-day sprint up to Airlie Beach, placing fourth overall.


After some initial rest, we are now preparing for Cyclone Kirrily.


Preparing for Cyclone Kirrily

We have taken a number of steps to prepare our fleet here in the Coral Sea Marina, from stripping everything off our race boat Qingdao, adding additional mooring lines, ‘bow in’ so we don’t get our masts tangled and otherwise preparing for winds of a Category 3 storm.



We will see what Mother Nature has in store for us over the next couple days…a new wrinkle in our journey. I’ve never been in a hurricane/cyclone but I’m prepared with food, water, charged up battery pack etc. We shall see!


Thanks for reading and I’ll post a short update as we get new news and any changes.


Best to everyone and looking forward to seeing Jean and close friends in Vietnam in a few weeks after Leg 5.


Qingdao! Qingdao! Qingdao!


Chris


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Mar 09
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Hey Boss!! Thinking of you and checking in on you! Sounds like it's going great. I'm sure you are having a ball! Can't wait to hear all about it. Miss you much and safe travels thru the rest of the journey! Hugs, Kim Fisher

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Jane vdZT
Jane vdZT
Jan 22

Wow, half time already? It went quicker than I expected. As always, love reading your posts and seeing your pictures. Nothing like a sunrise or sunset over the water. Have a safe and fast race 5 and I’ll see you on the podium in HLB!! G says hello and good luck! ⛵️

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I see a book in your future! Look forward to more stories in Ha Long Bay! Sail fast and hope to see Qingdao on the platform in HLB‼️⛵️⛵️⛵️

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Love the update, Chris! I’m currently sitting on a plane while we de-ice and love reading your latest adventures on the water. Have fun, sail fast and stay safe buddy.

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