North American sailing has taught me something this past week.
The Miami experience was bitter sweet for sure. Great to be back in the States, sad to leave "home" at the end and head back out to sea. I was actually only home for two days back in Newport, R.I., checking in on family and friends and heading over to the New York Yacht Club for a quick bite to eat on Saturday night. This is where my North American experience really started. Seeing how addicted and educated the NYYC members are about this event. And, they don't seem to be the only ones.
There is no doubt that the overall "numbers" were down at the Miami stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race compared to other stops around the world. I am not smart enough or close enough to the event to know why. But, what I do know is that those who showed up had some serious enthusiasm for the sport. I met people from Canada, California, the Great Lakes region and throughout the Northeast, all flying themselves to Miami to see this event. It was fantastic to reunite with a lot of old friends that I hadn't seen in years, but it was the perfect strangers that shocked me. People who I didn't know from Adam certainly knew quite a bit about us! Thanks to the internet, I presume.
So why does sailing have such a bad rap, that the sport is going down the tubes? Doesn't seem like it to me. Here are major league enthusiasts spending their hard-earned cash to check out the VOR stopover. All with a smile and a passion that was infectious. It was a great couple of weeks in my life.
I am tired though, and the start to this leg to Portugal has not exactly let us relax much. The routing had us heading north to the outskirts of dying Tropical Storm Alberto and sure enough, it snuck up on us and smacked us in the butt. All but Groupama delayed the jibe to head for Lisbon at the bottom of the low pressure a bit too long, and we got trapped by the very compact low pressure on the wrong side. We figure we waited about 15 minutes too long to jibe and suffered huge consequences because of it. Not a great start to the leg.
But, we only lost touch with the one boat so I guess it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Now we are drag racing in the remnants of this storm across The Pond averaging about 21 knots overnight. Blast reaching, which makes it really, really wet on deck.
But that is what we do, and it is all the more satisfying after obviously touching so many people in a positive way in Miami. And, it is safe to say they all touched me as positively as you could ever imagine. A bit overwhelming to be honest.
So a huge thank you to all of North America, and especially to the volunteers and fans who attended the Miami stopover. You certainly made it very special for the PUMA team and yours truly. I hope we did the same for you.
PUMA Ocean Racing, unterstützt durch BERG