BT Global Challenge: Andrew McGrath diary

Fleet leaves Cape Town

Sunday May 13th 2001, Author: Andrew Mcgrath, Location: United Kingdom
What a start! The backdrop is one of the most amazing in the world - Table Mountain on a clear sunny day.
0945 and Desmond Tutu does the blessing of the waves. A local township school choir sings the South African national Anthem - a beautiful hymn. The whole experience is very moving. There are also the last minute rounds of goodbyes to friends on other boats, not to mention the friends and family here to send us off.

We slipped the dock at 1000, our crew song blasting out over the PA system. The race start is not until 13:00 hours so we have a few hours to kill. It will be an upwind start on starboard tack, around a buoy one mile upwind and then away. The breeze was up to 16 knots by the start. We had the no 1 yankee, staysail and full main up. There were many spectator boats, a really good crowd to see us off, some a little too close for comfort!

We were not first over the line but it was close. It looked like being a quiet day for us foredeck boys (i.e no spinnakers)! Given some of our previous leg starts it made a change to have a bit more time on my hands. Off we went to the windward mark. We were nicely powered up. The first mark is always the first indication of the yacht's performance against each other on the race course. We were going to need one tack to lay the mark. Three boats were to windward. It was potentially going to be a close port-starboard call with us on port. Quadstone were going to be closest to us after the tack. They tacked first then over we went. We were going well. We made it. First around the mark.

Although it is very early days it felt good to get the first mini victory. We are currently on a bearing of 280 degrees at 2 knots. Compaq are now just ahead of us and we are in second place. One hour ago, at 1400, we went into the watch system with port watch (mine) off watch until 2000 and starboard watch running the show on deck.

It feels great to be back on board again! I feel like I have never been away even though it has been four weeks in Cape Town. I am looking forward to some fantastic downwind sailing in warm weather. I have left the Southern Ocean behind. It is a shame that our internet access was damaged on the last leg because I had some great stories of what that part of the world is really like.

It is approximately 30 days to La Rochelle and hopefully there are many tales yet to be told.

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