A trans­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence

Yachting World - - Front Page -

Few of the skip­pers who set out on 1st July had any real idea how they will con­tend with nine or ten months with vir­tu­ally no con­tact from other peo­ple.

As the youngest skip­per, Susie Goodall, born in 1990, will never have known life with­out the in­ter­net, email or text mes­sages. It’s likely that music on cas­sette tapes is as alien to her as the Su­per 8 cine film sup­plied to each boat.

Goodall seemed brit­tle with nerves be­fore the start, but it was hard to judge if she was ner­vous about the up­com­ing voy­age, or more likely strug­gling to con­tend with the hun­dreds of peo­ple want­ing to talk to her about the event in the fi­nal few days.

Mark Slatts thrives on ut­ter iso­la­tion. Two days into his cross-at­lantic row he cut the wires on this GPS be­cause he found the ‘miles to go’ count­down so in­tru­sive.

Mark Sin­clair, who has sailed thou­sands of miles solo, was also look­ing for­ward to it.

“Moby Dick’s got 600 pages, if I read two pages a day I’ll just get through it,” he jokes.

“I spend most of my time sit­ting up in the cock­pit watch­ing the wa­ter go by, I find it hyp­notic.

“Some­times I have to make a ra­dio sched and it’s so in­va­sive, I feel like it’s in­vad­ing my space.”

But not ev­ery­one can cope: within a week of start­ing, Er­tan Beskardes with­drew from the race. He ex­plained on Face­book: “Not talk­ing to my fam­ily reg­u­larly to share the daily ex­pe­ri­ences has sadly taken the joy and hap­pi­ness from this ex­pe­ri­ence. These feel­ings grad­u­ally got worse un­til noth­ing else mat­tered ex­cept to talk to them. This wasn’t an ex­pe­ri­ence I was pre­pared for.”

Be­fore the start Kevin Fare­brother ad­mit­ted he was ner­vous about his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence. “And to be hon­est, the soli­tude for nine months. It could be too much, I don’t know – if I only last two weeks we’ll know it’s a prob­lem?” he said pre­sciently.

In fact he re­tired af­ter ex­actly two weeks, un­able to adapt to sleep below decks. “For me it is like get­ting into the back seat of a mov­ing car to sleep when no-one is at the wheel,” he said, as he re­tired from the race.

Ab­hi­lash Tomy is an­other look­ing for­ward to the iso­la­tion. For him the big­ger chal­lenge is re­join­ing the mod­ern world.“it’s al­ways the re­turn, com­ing back that’s harder. It’s painful in­te­grat­ing back into so­ci­ety.

“I found it very amus­ing last time. You see peo­ple hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions – they’re talk­ing a lot but they’re not com­mu­ni­cat­ing what they want to say.”

Tomy be­lieves the race will be trans­for­ma­tive for all the skip­pers. “They all will be changed, but to what de­gree, to what ex­tent and in what di­rec­tion is some­thing that will be de­cided by their ex­pec­ta­tions of this race, and what ex­pe­ri­ences they have.”

We will have to wait some 300 days to find out.

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