Today has been a busy one for everyone in Around Alone, both here in Salvador at the Centro Nautico da Bahia (CENAB) and down in Ushuaia at the bottom of the world.
The children of the CENAB's own 'Projet Navegar' have spent the day watching their drawings become reality as Bahia's most famous public artist Bel Borba painted a patchwork of all their designs onto the Brazil part of Thierry Dubois' spinnaker in the Race Village. The CENAB also held a special race between the skippers and the children in Optimists around the fort, which was fiercely contested and eventful to say the least - more of these stories down the page!
Firstly, the countdown begins to the departure of Spirit of Canada from Ushuaia: Derek Hatfield and his team have been working without rest this week to get the boat fully re-fitted and ready to sail by this weekend. The team sent some great pictures of the mast being re-stepped (here and more in the gallery/Photos Leg4), and Derek updates the story in his latest log:
"It is 10:00 Thursday night here in Ushuaia. We have just finished work and we have been working non stop for the past 28 hours. The new mast arrived a full day late from Buenos Aires due to rough roads and rain storms in the mountains. Since it's arrival at around 7 p.m. yesterday, it has been transformed from a long single stick of red carbon into a vertical standing mast on Spirit of Canada. The boat is back at the yacht club with the mast up, furlers installed, and the radar and full instrumentation working. It is an amazing feat in logistics. We are all dead tired but satisfied with the progress. Friday, we will finish tuning the rig and putting the new sails on the boat and hopefully go sailing in the afternoon. If all goes well, I will provision the boat with fresh food and water and head out towards Cape Horn on the weekend. The weather may be a factor for the Saturday so I cannot tell if I will be able to leave that day or not. I will update everyone tomorrow on the expected departure time. Take Care - Derek" We all wish Derek the best of luck and fair winds for his restart to Salvador.
So back to Brazil and the events of today. Thierry Dubois took some time to explain how the artist Bel Borba and himself decided upon the overall design for the Brazilian part of his spinnaker, which is intended to be a patchwork of square images from all the children of Projet Navegar and the schools Thierry has visited in Salvador for Amnesty International and Children's Rights Around the World. "First I must explain that the CENAB's Projet Navegar is not just about teaching these children to sail and canoe, but also giving them some direction in life where perhaps they have come from broken homes or led unhappy lives. So the artist wanted to create a symbolic design for Brazil, and we asked the children to make very small, square drawings. We ended up deciding that we would paint them all on the sail in a patchwork style for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is very traditional for the Brazilian family to have patchworked covers in their house, so it represents something local to this country. Second, Brazil itself is made up of a patchwork of people, so many different races, colours and people live in this big country." The spinnaker is still being painted in the Race Village but several images of the work in progress are in the gallery from earlier today (Salvador Images). Thierry hopes to go sailing on Monday with the spinnaker and we will have some images from this next week.
And finally…the one and only Around Alone Regatta, in which half a dozen of the Projet Navegar kids and some of the skippers (the braver ones!) battled it out in gusting winds over a very tricky race course from the pontoon, around the fort, and back home! The line up on both sides was impressive: the CENAB's pluckiest young Optimist sailors against the likes of formidable circumnavigators Thierry Dubois, Emma Richards, Bruce Schwab and Kojiro Shiraishi, who were aided and abetted by shore crew Gilles Campan (Everest Horizontal) and Josea Ruiz (Tiscali).
The starting sequence saw the dextrous Emma Richards hogging the line, but being tailed closely by a skilful Oppie sailor called Yvon, who never left her side - he knows his stuff! Gilles was determined to use more ruthless ramming tactics to unguard his opposition and was seen rubbing gunwhales with Josea at the port end of the line (or maybe he was just asking Josea for his lighter?!) The start was signalled by fireworks, and the fleet of bathtub-and-handkerchief boats raced off downwind towards the starboard side of the fort, little Yvon and Emma leading by at least 8 boat lengths to Thierry Dubois. As the fort created tricky wind shadows in it's lee, the diminutive Bruce Schwab found his form and picked off his opponents one by one, to end up ahead of Thierry and in 3rd place after rounding the fort.
A short reaching leg to a special buoy shook out the rest of the fleet into more of a procession and saw Thierry doggedly pursuing 2 young Oppie sailors to the mark trying to take their wind! The final upwind stretch to the finish was as exciting as you'll ever see. Yvon matching racing Emma tack for tack, keeping the British sailing star on her knees (well, in Oppies there's no room to be on your toes!); meanwhile Bruce was crossing tacks with his rival Oppie sailor and Thierry playing on every wind shift to salvage something of his initial podium position…
In the end, Yvon scored a convincing victory over all the assembled professional navigators, followed by Emma Richards and Bruce Schwab. And in all of this where was Kojiro? Well, the go-faster natural energy straps must have been left at the dockside as he came a very firm last… "I need a bigger boat!" the Open 40 skipper cried in his defence! A small prizegiving was held in the bar afterwards, where all the skippers received a little Brazilian trophy and posed for a group photo for the assembled photographers and TV cameras. In all, a good day has been enjoyed by all and many photos are now in the gallery (Salvador Images) for you all to enjoy too.