Before we get started I must apologise to everyone for failing spectacularly to write anything blog-related in the past three weeks. Official VELUX 5 OCEANS content has been flying out of my fingers at a rate of knots (yes, I will unashamedly elbow in any nautical reference I can) which has left little time for blogging. This, of course, is no excuse. I am guilty of first rate blog neglect, and for that I am sorry.
Anyway, the good news is that I’m back! I swear I just heard a global sigh of relief… I got back to England’s green and pleasant land last night after four solid weeks in La Rochelle. We nearly didn’t make it home thanks to the protestors in France who made it nigh on impossible to get fuel and then when we got to Cherbourg we found all 10,000 of them heading directly to the ferry port… But it all turned out ok in the end and here I am typing on my couch at home.
It’s amazing how when you are abroad for a long time you forget that England in the winter is actually freezing cold. I’m still in La Rochelle mode – big mistake. When it’s only one degree outside, shorts and sandals are a bad move, trust me. Brrrr!
It’s a far cry from the amazing weather we had in France. It only rained a few times over the whole month, and was mostly sunny and warm. In fact, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the VELUX 5 OCEANS. As soon as the race village opened thousands of people stopped by to have a look round, admire the boats on the pontoons and chat to the skippers about their mammoth challenge ahead. The skippers themselves were brilliant too – not one of them was ever too busy to talk to an interested visitor. They were repaid with a fantastic send off from La Rochelle under clear blue skies and with more than 400 spectator boats including the magnificent Belem on the water to wave them farewell.
It was an emotional occasion to have been part of, more so than any other yacht race start I have been to. And right there is the whole point about the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The guys who are taking part in this race are not sailing rock stars with millions of euros of sponsorship, brand new boats and a huge shore crew. They are just normal people wanting to do something extraordinary. Just like the original circumnavigators or the 27 yachtsman who lined up in 1982 for the first edition of this race, people connect with the skippers because they are simply following their dreams. And that, dear readers, is the spirit of the VELUX 5 OCEANS.