We were joined by another of Anita’s friends and then by Peter and Lynsey, Anita’s brother and sister-in-law. A real family occasion. The boats passed through the lock, four by four. Eventually all 12 boats were in the Thames and Tower Bridge opened to allow some of them to pass upstream. That was when we went to find the spectator boat that Anita had pre-booked as soon as Race Start was confirmed.There were several such boats but we all thought that ours was the best! We went under Tower Bridge and had very good views of all of the Clipper Boats. This was our first view away from the dock area. Eventually we went back below Tower Bridge and watched all of the boats pass by us on their way downstream. Front of the parade of course was GREAT Britain whose skipper is Simon Talbot. We then went past the boats again so having another good view. To cut a long story short, we leap-frogged all 12 Clipper Boats several times all the way down the Thames to just below the Thames Barrier. Then we just waited once again as they all went past us for the last time – on their way to Southend and the actual start of Race 1 in the morning. As we watched these wonderful boats starting on their way Round the World we couldn’t help wondering how the crews were feeling. Before their training sessions, some of them had never sailed before and now they were going round the world! What an adventure. Our spectator boat made way upstream to Tower Bridge but there was still plenty to see. It seemed that lots of ‘older’ sailing vessels were out that day and we do seem to have lots and lots of photos.
You’ve guessed it – we ended up back in the Dickens Inn with those Clipper Crew not on Leg 1. There were very mixed feelings:
- St Katharine Docks looked empty;
- their friends were already on the Race;
- all had to go home and back to work;
- BUT it had all started!
The day ended in an Indian restaurant with some of Anita’s Clipper friends. Then it was Shanks’s pony, tube, train and taxi back to Anita’s place for some much needed sleep before returning home on Monday morning. A fantastic weekend!
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