I’m writing this week’s report from the Pirate’s base in Marina da Gloria, Rio de Janeiro. Following on from our strong finish into Rio, the team is upbeat and determined to continue our move up the leader board.
The crew have now taken a few days off, either to go and visit the sights and sounds of Brazil or fly home for some rest and relaxation. They’re due back tomorrow when they’ll get to work on the jobs at hand.
The Black Pearl’s in pretty good shape, the best of any of the stopovers so far. We’re tackling a huge job list but there’s been a major change in this stopover. During previous stopovers we’ve had major repairs to carry out, but in Rio we’re ticking jobs off which are purely maintenance based.
The Black Pearl was out of the water for a week and just went back in this afternoon. Every element of the boat has been thoroughly cleaned and checked to ensure she is in peak racing condition. With a new coat of paint on the deck, The Black Pearl will also be looking her best for the Disney and Pescanova VIPs, as well as a number of journalists, coming out sailing with us this week.
As I sit here in the beautiful city of Rio, it’s extremely difficult to do anything other than go to the beach (not that we’ve had the chance yet!). The heat is sweltering, so much so that we’ve had air conditioning installed on the boat for the guys working down below. The team have consumed in excess of 2,000 bottles/cans of fluids and we’ve only been here just over a week! The conditions for working have been virtually unbearable, but they’ve stuck at it and powered on.
This stopover we’ve beefed up the shore team which has proven invaluable. We’ve learned by experience that it’s crucial to have the right people in place.
I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to three valuable members of our shore team. First off is our most senior Pirate, Murray McDonnell who everyone knows as ‘Murph’. At 55, Murph brings the team a wealth of experience and boasts six America’s Cups to his credit. Murph also worked with Dennis Connor throughout the last Whitbread (97/98) aboard ‘Toshiba’.
Murph was a recruit of the ‘Pimp my Ride’ Academy, at the very beginning of the race in Vigo, when we enrolled the help of as many boat builders as we could, in order to get The Black Pearl ready for the start. Murph returned to help us when we had to divert to Portugal and then joined us again in Cape Town, where I asked him to join the team full time. Without a doubt, Murph has become indispensable to the team.
From the oldest to the youngest on the team, there’s Rikard Grunnan from San Francisco, who celebrated a milestone birthday this weekend. Rikard is a recent high school graduate and is taking a year off before heading to Arizona to study Mechanical Engineering.
Rikard’s day is as varied as you might imagine when it comes to maintaining a VO70. One day Rikard maybe doing carbon repairs and then he’ll hop over to maintain the boat’s many components. He also has his power boat license so he’s the official driver of the Captain’s Protector and in charge of getting some of the team from one side of the harbour in Niteroi to Rio.
I’d also like to introduce you to Craig Gurnell, a 30 year old sail maker from Whangarei, New Zealand. When it comes to sails, Craig’s your man – whether it’s repairs, shape changes or logos. Craig’s job is to make sure that the team sails as fast as possible – and that the sails stay in one piece. I say in one piece because the crew is only allowed 24 sails from start to finish. Craig started sailing when he was just ten and has worked in the industry for close to 13 years. This is Craig’s first round the world race and he hopes to crew on a VO70 in one of the upcoming VORs.
Last week the focus was on preparing The Black Pearl to go back in the water. This week we’ll be welcoming the sailing team back and looking forward to our events shoreside with Disney, Zegna and Pescanova.
We’ll keep you posted from Rio.
Pirates of the Caribbean