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The Race Legs

It's the last day of July, and I'm now 16 days away from leaving for the UK (one way this time!) where I'll do final preparations on the boat with my team. This past weekend has been spent around the house and with friends/colleagues as I start saying my 'goodbyes'. From a race prep perspective, I was just asked by our skipper, Greg Hunt to be a watch leader on the boat, along with being the 'engineer', so I've got some additional training to do before we start racing September 3rd...a one way trip to the UK is coming up!


For this post, I received a question from our friend Mary Markarian, based here in Chicago...Mary's daughter Gianna grew up with our daughter Katie and we are still great friends with their family. The question was: "Of the legs of the race, which one(s) will pose the most mental and physical challenge for you and why?"


A good question...but first a bit of background: For the Clipper Race 2023-2024 there will be 8 legs, and as of this post, not all of our destinations and timing are known yet. Odd? Surely, but this situation also reflects not only sailing (we can only fit where they can take 11 70' race boats), but also the post-pandemic world where sponsorships, invitations for sporting events etc. are more difficult to come by...we'll get there, and we are a very resilient group, so I'm not too worried about it...frankly, I've got a lot of other things on my mind!


So the race is 8 legs long, and the circumference of the earth is approximately 40,000 kilometers...but we will sail somewhere north of 50,000 kilometers because we meander around, working our way around the world and don't sail in a straight line. The route map is shown below and the details of each leg are here on the Clipper site. For our overall calendar timing and ports-of-call cities as we know them now, you can go here.

To answer Mary's question about which leg do I personally think will be the most challenging, I'm going to pick two legs: Leg 3 in the Southern Ocean and Leg 6, the Pacific crossing.

  • Leg 3, the Southern Ocean is deep south, where the winds and seas can be large and the weather very cold. I have, a Musto dry suit (thank you Mom for the wonderful gift!), winter wear, and a warm sleeping bag...and plenty of extras...but I believe this leg will be a challenge because of the cold conditions and very challenging sea/wind conditions. Throughout the various legs of the race, we must abide by certain race rules, for example on Leg 3, we cannot go above the 45th parallel (latitude 45 degrees)...in this region we are getting into areas of the Southern Ocean that few go, and when they do, they are usually pro sailor/racers, or maybe a bit 'off their rocker's..the ocean is smoking down there, and I'm sure we'll have our hands full from Cape Town to Fremantle without going above 45 degrees latitude South.

  • Leg 6 across the Pacific will have many of the same features of Leg 3, but also is our longest leg...we may be at sea nearly 40 days...I'm going to be stocking up on hot tea and dark chocolate for that leg, more than the others. The overall duration, of constant racing for possibly 40 days, in potentially challenging, cold conditions will make this leg stand out.


While Legs 3 and 6 weigh on my mind a bit, I take none of the legs for granted. Leg 1 will have a mid-stop in Spain, and will be our first chance to fully come together as a team...I expect, like any team bonding effort, some fits and starts as we gel together for the first time. For Legs 2, and 4, you are still 'south', and the ocean, regardless, can be rough and unforgiving. Legs 5, 7, and 8 will most likely be very hot with pockets of windless seas...all trying conditions.


So, that's my thoughts for this post...I'm thinking long and hard about how to stay warm and dry on this race...my gear is good, but nonetheless, it will still be wet and cold. Thanks Mary for the question! On one of my upcoming posts, I'll dig a bit deeper into "fear" as I think that also relates to your question, but that will require a bit more time to write.


Oh, and while I have your attention, we are continuing to build momentum for our UNICEF and Michael J. Fox Foundation fund raising...if you haven't already, I'd welcome your support with a tax-deductible, secure contribution to these great organizations. Go to my philanthropy page for all the details and to make a secure donation. Much thanks.


I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog...if there are any questions you'd like answered, drop me note at chrisfaris@comcast.net or put a comment down and I'll get to it...a lot more topics I plan to cover.


Thanks for reading!


Chris




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Chris love the insight and look forward to hearing all about what each leg entails.

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