Tongue stuck gently in cheek, I offer you three images.
Like thousands of others, I leant on the railings around the Barbican in Plymouth in early May and admired the TRANSAT boats.
Like hundreds of others, I looked very hard at those boats and put myself on board. “What would it be like in a gale of wind – where would I be, what would I be adjusting next?”
I imagined myself picking up lines, juggling with electronics, changing sails, feeling myself lifted high in the air in those wide cockpits – looking down to leeward as the boat heeled precariously in a sudden gust . . . or standing knee deep in water, looking up as the windward side angled above me . . . or just holding on – (when ‘one hand for you, one for the ship’ becomes ‘both hands for you’) . . not to mention the other tasks of working with the team, managing the press, dealing with costs.
Sure, I can see the differences, this is way out of my league, but are there any similarities with what happens on Blue Mistress? . . . Is there a common thread? Or am I just a another dreamer?
This is the cockpit of Gitana Eighty (Loick Peyron) – as I write, lying first in the IMOCA 60s, making 13.8 knots, with 307 nautical miles to go to Boston, (and, yes, we do deal with figures showing that apparent accuracy).
And this is the cockpit of Telecom Italia (Giovanni Soldini) – currently lying first in Class 40, making 7.4 knots in light airs, with 1079 nautical miles to go.
Back on board Blue Mistress – (seen here last month in Fowey, Cornwall),
I look round my own short, narrow cockpit. Like Peyron and Soldini, I know every inch of it. Less to know, of course, and I may not have competed every inch of the way across an ocean, but I too have watched the sea from every angle, felt the wind, and eyed the weather.
And there lies the similarity, it’s not in the technology, it’s in the sea and the weather, elements careless of mankind, carrying their own way day after day, century after century.
And if I dare to compare myself (and you) to those sailors currently hurrying acoss the Atlantic, it’s lies in a certain restlessness – that sparkle in the eye, that beat of the heart, that need to test ourselves in those elements.
There’s no mystery, it’s simply being out there for the love of it.