Almost two days into Leg 4 of the Around Alone and the skippers are enjoying ideal sailing conditions. The wind is light, and from behind, but after a long break on land it's always nice to ease back into things.
The big winds will arrive soon enough and before long the boats will careening on the edge of control as they make their way towards Cape Horn. The racing is close, and probably because of it the communications from on board have been minimal. We have only received a few cryptic emails, and no photos.
One of the skippers who did take the time to send in a report was Emma Richards on Pindar. Emma truly won the hearts of all of Tauranga while she was there, and she continues to be an inspiration to sailors and non-sailors alike. Watching her leave the dock on Sunday with the huge crowd that turned out to bid all the boats farewell cheering her on, it struck me how lucky we are to have her in this event. She is not only an amazing sailor, but she is also a warm and caring human being that does not take herself too seriously. She always has time to stop and talk or share a joke. Her arrival in New Zealand actually marked the end of a circumnavigation that started a year ago when she was crew aboard Amer Sports One in the Volvo Ocean Race. Between sailing Amer Sports One around the Horn and as far as Miami, the trimaran Pindar in the Transat Jacques Vabre, and half way around the world on the monohull Pindar, Emma has racked up some impressive mileage over the last year. It's obvious that she loves being on the ocean. Her email describes the calm conditions and an encounter with a whale. It is just another day at the office for Emma.
"First light this morning held a good sight of all six Class 1 boats and Brad, all within sight of one another," she wrote. "But I seem to have sailed from one hole in the wind to another all day and have seen no-one except Brad since. I am finally moving at 6 knots so I may get a speeding ticket soon. It has been very frustrating for certain moments, then very sociable with chats to some of the other competitors great for keeping morale up. With such flat calm seas which show how little wind there is, it has shown up some amazing sea life! In fact one whale was swimming straight for me, just bobbing up and down, dead straight collision course. I had time to avoid it and grab my camera - yes this could be the first time I actually caught some sea life on it! Anyway I missed it by only a few feet and I think it suddenly realized I was there and dove, it must have been on a mission or just daydreaming! Better go, bit of dinner and back to the helm, maybe a nap if the conditions hold steady for a while! Good to be back on the water but missing people and New Zealand already."