The Black Pearl is Off

The Black Pearl is off. Following a very busy day…loading provisions for 2000 miles, a press conference, and a christening, we are now out in the middle of the English Channel on the way to the northwest corner of France.

The Christening went well with Lady Gabriela Winsor doing the honors and much to everyones pleasure, crushing the bottle on the first swing. We left imediately following the ceremony, doing a few “fly-bys” for some of our guests, who followed us out into the Southampton water for a few miles.

Once we got out, I had a little meeting to thank the crew for their part in getting the boat to this stage this quickly. Then we had a short saftey briefing by the Minister of Health and Safety, Justin Clougher. Then Freddy Loof, fresh from the Etchell World Championship in San Francisco yesterday cooked up our first meal…Pasta Bolognese by Dry Tech. Jerry Kirby ad I were commentting on how much better the food tasted than 8 years ago. After dinner, I brought a few treats that Kimo Worthington organized for us today, brownies an cookies, not normal fare on the round the world race but very nice for this special occasion! It is very light wind tonight so I decided to run a small crew on deck and get everyone some extra sleep. I will have to amend this behavior soon or this crew will get the wrong idea about me.

The big push to get the boat ready for the 2000 mile qualifiction passage (reqired by the Volvo Ocean Race rules) has really jump started this campaign. Just a week ago we launched the boat and complete the roll over test. We sailed two days later for the first time and now we are fully loaded and heading out to sea for what will be about a week or 8 days of sailing and getting to know the boat.

These boats are fairly complex with the canting keel mechanism, which is primarily hydraulic, dagger boards, plus all thte regular systems like generators, water makers, main engine, electornics, navigation equipment, navigation and routing software, peformance software, radar, and a few others. The goal of this 2000 mile sail is to test all these systems make adustments that we can while we are ouut here and undobtedly return to the dock with a long list of things to fix and work on. We also have or sail designer onboard, Steve Calder, so we will be looking at the sizing and shape of or first sail inventory and trying to decide on modifications for them. We have a sewing machine onboard and can make small adjustments even out here on the boat.

Meanwhile, our shoreteam led by Kimo Worthington and Curt Oetking, will be setting up camp in Sanxenxo, Spain so that when we arrive there next Monday or Tuesday we are fully operational. The shore team has done an incredible job of getting the boat finished, all logistics set up, containers fitted out, shipping and trucking organized, housing sorted, offices set up, networks set up, and a number of other tasks. It is truly impressive what goes into organiizing these campaigns. The logistics are complicated because of all the constant moving of venues. We on the crew could not possibly do this race without a great shore team supporting everything we do.

Well, that’s about it for my inagural email from onboard the Black Pearl. Many more to follow.