This race from Jamaica to New York was to be the last of my races. In New York I would wave goodbye to the Clipper race and set off on the next stage of my travels. The next I would see of them was on their return to London at the end of the overall race in July.
We had been able to get a proper break from the boat during the Jamaica stopover as it followed a very short race from Panama. Most of the maintenance which had been done there did not need repeating.
In some ways the race was very varied. Light, fickle winds caused the race to be shortened. Some of it was uncomfortable upwind sailing as we passed through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti, and later when we spent some time using the favourable current of the Gulf Stream. The concentration and determination on board Henri Lloyd did not diminish though.
We got off to a good start, leading from the beginning and through the Windward Passage and then we were first through the Scoring Gate, picking up the maximum three available points.
Our only intention when it came to the Ocean Sprint was to prevent our rivals Great Britain from winning it. They were in sight when they started it before us. A tense few hours later we learned that we had finished it before them, so our goal had been achieved. Several hours after that when the other teams had finished it, we discovered that we had in fact been the fastest of the 12 competitors, reaping the extra two available points.
And then we won the race itself! Another 12 points. For the first and only time in the Clipper 13-14 Race, one team had scooped the maximum 17 points. A fantastic way for my involvement in the Clipper race to come to an end.
Unlike Jamaica, where the finish line was just outside the port and within minutes we were celebrating our win alongside, we had a day or so of motorsailing before we could come alongside in New York, made longer by the fact the race was shortened.
We came out of the Gulf Stream as soon as we could, making me and others feel rather less seasick. On the last day we could see some of the huge buildings that make up Atlantic City. By the time we approached the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline, it was dark however. Our welcoming committee of team members who lived locally or had come out for Leg 8 had been celebrating long before we passed the Statue of Liberty.
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