Alan Paris on BTC Velocity is making good progress across the Tasman Sea heading for Cape Reinga on the northern tip of New Zealand. The conditions are almost perfect; twenty knots of wind blowing from the southwest.
A firm area of high pressure is situated over Sydney, Australia, and the circulation around the High is bringing consistent trade-wind like sailing. It's a relief for Paris who must by now be feeling an acute sense of loneliness with the rest of the skippers all in port. Fortunately Alan has an amazing spirit and will more than likely be enjoying the sailing rather than moping around thinking of the hot meals and cold drinks he could be having.
The rest of the skippers are indeed enjoying hot meals and cold drinks and last night they were guests of Jan Beange, the Mayor of Tauranga. A festive evening was held at the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club with a wonderful display of traditional Maori dancing. This evening they will also be treated to another feast at the Western Bay Finance Race Village. Another traditional Maori evening is planned and judging by the amount of food being prepared, it's likely to a party that goes on long into the night.
During the day it's all work for the skippers and shore teams who are working hard to get the boats ready for Leg 4. Many of the yachts have been hauled out of the water and those that have not are a hub of activity with shore crews and volunteers getting stuck into the never-ending work lists. Bernard Stamm and his team are endlessly fairing the hull of Bobst Group Armor lux where it was repaired after suffering delamination the night before arriving in New Zealand. Bernard's team can be seen arriving at cocktail parties still covered in dust and paint chips all adding to the fun feeling of being in a far away country. With just over two weeks until the start of Leg 4, the clock is already ticking. One of the toughest legs of the race lies ahead.
After this story had been posted Brian received an email from Alan Paris and BTC Velocity. It's really poignant and worth reading. "Hello all,"
he wrote. "So I feel a little like the true definition of the race. One Sailor, One Boat, Around the World ( across the Tasman maybe ) ALONE. It's always lonely out here, but when you are the only one still racing it is really lonely. Well done Tim, Derek and Kojiro. A great finish as you guys battled it out until the end. I will be there as soon as possible. Tim Kent sent me an email saying " he promised he would not have any fun until I arrived " hmm, I don't believe you Tim !! BTC Velocity and I have been making good time since leaving Tasmania with the last 3 days being 207 , 195 and 190 nm daily runs. Looks like at least the next 2 days will be around 190 and then its a race to make Cape Reinga before the High pressure gets there. It will be close, but I think we can make it. ETA. Still looking for the 29th January."