With BP Explorer having now arrived in Boston safe all of the crews are busy preparing for this evening's prize giving ceremony being held at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, which will officially bring to the close Race One of the Challenge Transat 2002
Following Logica's protest against BG Group (for missing a waypoint) being rejected by the International Jury, the crew of BG Group are the official winners of Race One in a time of 18d 16h 46m 0s. Eight minutes behind were Logica, Vail Williams in third place with a time of 19d 3h 56m 0s, Spirit of Hong Kong in fourth with 19d 15h 6m 54s and Team SpirIT in fifth who came in after 20d 7h 44m 29s. BP Explorer arrived on Sunday evening after withdrawing from the race last week with a ripped main sail.
All of the crews are now relaxing in Boston, reflecting on the highs and lows of a race which has seen a number of dramas. A number of these have been felt by the plucky crew of BP Explorer which was not only diverted to a yacht in a potential emergency situation but, following their retirement in the race, took the full brunt of Hurricane Gustav.
"Every time we had a set back,"
explained Skipper Alex Johnson, praising his crew, "they rose to the occasion."
And to praise their incredible determination against all the adversity, they were met with rapturous applause from a large crowd in Boston many of whom had come to learn of their travels and were eager to meet the crew. They were also welcomed to the cheers of the other crews who greeted their fellow adventurers by thrusting beers and 'proper food' into their hands!
All of the yachts have achieved and learnt a massive amount from the race, both in terms of sailing and their experience of living and working with virtual strangers. David Melville, skipper of Vail Williams felt humbled by his crew, a crew that with David's leadership had developed into an effective racing team. "They were brilliant and inspired me!"
he said at the finish.
This is despite the hurricane, which for any sailor would have been a daunting prospect: "It was like sailing directly into the barrel of a gun,"
described David. However, this decision secured third place for the team.
Mark Taylor, skipper of Team SpirIT summarised his thoughts in a recent daily log: "It has been a privilege to lead a wonderful crew, who are extremely talented and diverse. They have all gained my respect in different ways and the way they have formed into a cohesive team has been inspiring and rewarding to observe and be part of."
For many a Crew Volunteer the Challenge Transat has been the adventure of their life as many have experienced, for the very first time, the awesome power of the Atlantic. Rod Mercer, who normally spends his days working as an electrical engineer but formed part of the crew aboard Logica explains: "The night is rich with its own sounds: the phosphorescent foam churning in the boat's wake, the wind charging over the deck and whining through the rigging, the hull pounding at the confused seas and the resulting waves of water and spray as they crash onto and around the boat.
"The environment is so alien to the normal lives of most of us. And it is relentless in its persistence to go on and on unchanged for hours at a time."
Others have marvelled at the nature surrounding them on their voyage as dolphins, whales and sharks have spent time curiously escorting the yachts as they have raced across the Atlantic.
Discovering the world of racing has inevitably led to much amusement on the boats as Crew Volunteers have been getting accustomed to life on the ocean wave: "Life at 45 degrees was fun throughout the night," explains Spirit of Hong Kong in one of their daily logs, "moving from Port to Starboard is more like climbing Everest than sailing the Atlantic. As a result we are instigating a bruise competition but certain bruises will definitely remain hidden!!"
In the end it came down to minutes as BG Group Crew Volunteer, Simon Bell, explains, "JB (John Burfitt) worked Logica's lead down to one crucial tack where Logica tacked to cover just moments too late and we crossed 200 yds ahead. We finished at 06:46.38 GMT just 1 mile ahead of Logica after one of the best days racing I have ever had!"
The Crew Volunteers for Race One will have just one more night together before leaving their yachts for the Race II Crew Volunteers, who will be flying in from around the world during the next couple of days.
Race Two of the Challenge Transat, Boston to Southampton leg starts at midday on Sunday 29th September 2002. Competition between the yachts will be at an all time high as they battle it out once again on the waters of the North Atlantic with new crews and fresh determination.