Minutes Away

Just a quick share of John’s love note to Bronwen… and they are moments away from being reunited!

Hi Darling,

Wow, an exciting day for you – the day your adventure starts!  Hope all the packing went well and that your journey to Punta is smooth.  I am really excited for you and proud that you are on your adventure too.

Today has been an eventful day, purely from a sailing perspective but not good for our expected performance this race.  I have not managed to keep my blog up to date, so updates will need to wait until the next email opportunity.

Really looking forward to seeing you in Punta.   Lots of love and wishing you a safe journey,

J xx

Tune in to Facebook for imminent coverage of John’s arrival!

Only 1000 miles to Rio!

Day 21 (Saturday 09 September 2017)

Life in the Doldrums and The Coolest Place to Sleep

The last few days have blurred together.  We entered the doldrums corridor and then declared our intention to motor for 60 hours.  Once this was done we were committed and had to do this.  When the time came to start motoring we were still sailing along nicely at 11 knots but had to slow down to the 6 knots required motoring speed.

The watch system changes while we are motoring.  There is no need for a full watch to motor the boat in a straight line.  This presents the issue that there are not enough bunks for all the off-watch people so makeshift sleeping positions appear wherever possible with everyone trying to find the coolest place to sleep.

This does become a really uncomfortable phase of the race.  Wherever you are below decks, you are sweating in the heat.  On deck, there is nowhere comfortable to sit or lie.  The deck is hot and hard and the best place seems to be lying on the sails at the bow, at a risk of getting splashed with warm sea water every now and again!  Several of us are feeling the strain, not feeling well which does not help the tolerance levels.

Silly things are still being done by the crew.  We had another block in the heads because someone put too much toilet paper down the bowl.  A highly unpleasant process to put right.  Switches in the nave station keep being turned on and off, seemingly at random.  Someone has been playing with the Sat-Comms causing them to be left on consuming the boat’s data allowance.  All these small things cause unnecessary aggravation for others.  It has also transpired, as we are motoring, that when we left Liverpool, one of our four diesel fuel tanks was empty, so we have a lot less fuel on board than we thought.

As we continued south the expected wind hole never appeared.  This meant that we would have been better not declaring and not motoring.  More frustration.  Watching the position reports, it seems that all the fleet in the corridor are progressing at a similar rate.  We are still the most westerly of the fleet which we hope will be an advantage when we get to the other end.  We are having to sail straight into a southerly wind and battle head-on into the waves.  This means that we are using far more fuel than expected for this journey.  Yesterday it was calculated that we now have a severe shortage of fuel.

The way the Doldrums Corridor works means that we can travel for no more than 6 degrees of latitude, 360 nautical miles, and must motor for 60 hours.  The intention was to increase our speed for the final half a day to reach as far as we are allowed within the time period.  With this lack of fuel, we now can’t do that which is annoying.  We could have gained a couple of places from that one manoeuvre.  This also means that we have to live with reduced generator usage from now until the end of the race.  We have used the last of our initial tank fuel in getting to the end of the doldrums motoring section.  We are now on reserve fuel which has been transferred from the jerry cans in the Lazarette into one of the fuel tanks.  We should have just enough fuel to keep our batteries charged provided we don’t use too much electricity from the batteries each day.  So this will mean cutting down on fresh-water usage, no more laundry and better dishwashing routines, no more use of the toaster (a good thing in my opinion as it means less eat in the galley at breakfast), and the absolute minimum of charging portable devices.  At our daily crew meeting it was suggested that we stop all device charging apart from those we are required to charge, i.e. the media devices.  However, too many people are clearly too attached to theirs to let this idea be passed!  However needs will be met, so while both my laptop and phone have 40% battery life now, once they have died that will probably be the end of my electronic recording of the race.

Last night we did come to the end of our motoring section so we are now under sail again.  I have had a long rest, though not much sleep, and am feeling much better this morning.  We now start racing to the end of the corridor and then to Punta, only 2,800 miles away now!

 

Day 22 (Sunday 10 Sept 2017)

Out of the Doldrums and into the South-East Trade Winds

This feels like the last part of this race.  We are out of the Doldrums corridor and into the South-East Trade Winds which will blow us all the way to Punta del Este.  Unfortunately, our position in the race has dropped back to 9th place.  The boats to the East of us have had better wind a better wind angle so, although they had further to travel, they have all caught up with us.  Additionally, we had some poor helming in the latter parts of the corridor which meant that we were travelling east and west, and not south.

The wind has been too much to the south to be an advantage for us.  We are sailing close-hauled into both the wind and the waves.  This makes for choppy conditions with the occasional, but too frequent, splashing of everyone in the cockpit area as we plough into a wave.  At least the sea is warm but as night falls most decide that foulie sallopettes and breeze jackets are the best option rather than getting another salt-water soaking.  I had a rain-water soaking last night as we went through a rain-storm while putting two reefs in the main sail.  I was soaked to the skin but in the morning, putting on damp shorts and t-shirt, my shorts looked and felt much cleaner and the shirt felt much better than when it is salty.

It is strange how the time passes on board.  Off watch is all about rest, food and drink.  Drinking is especially important as I am finding that none of the drinks taste nice.  I have almost stopped any tea or coffee.  The squash tastes horrible and even the lemon and ginger tea tastes odd.  It is therefore a struggle to keep hydrated.  During the day, being on watch is busy as there are tasks to do and always the trimming to reassess.  However, during the night watches, there is time to reflect and to come below to write blogs.  Annoyingly, during the day I think of lots of things that I should write about, but come the evening, I don’t seem to be able to remember any of them.

There has been lot more cloud in the last day or so which with more wind means that the temperature in the boat has dropped slightly, which is a relief.  During the last couple of off-watches, I have slept quite well.

 

Day 24 (Tuesday 12 Sept 2017)

Less Than A Thousand Miles to Rio – the end is in reach!

We have been on the same tack since we left the Doldrums Corridor, close-hauled into a SSE wind, and trundling along nicely.  It makes the days and watches monotonous with no change in direction and very few sail changes.  We had several attempts at sail changes, swapping the Yankee 3 for the Yankee 2 (larger than the Y3 for lighter winds) and shaking out a reef in the main sail only to have to put them all back as they were.  We have times, usually during the night, when we are gaining on the rest of the fleet but other times when we are losing ground again.  At today’s Skipper Meeting, Lance suggested that we extend the helming sessions to reduce the course wobbles that happen every time we change the Helmsman, and that, tomorrow morning, we try the Yankee 2 again to see if we can cope with the extra canvas consistently.

The wind is generally a consistent 15 – 20 knots although this can increase markedly when a squall comes through.  It is funny how we can be sailing along nicely and then the wind seems to drop away slightly, lulling us into thinking that it is time to either shake a reef out or change to a larger head sail.  Then suddenly, out of the clouds, we see the rain cloud and the winds increase again.  This can be accompanied by changes in the wind direction so we have to both change course and ease the sails to make sure the boat is manageable.

It is now less than 1,000 miles to the next waypoint, just off Rio de Janeiro and from there we will have another 1,100 miles to Punta.  Somehow this makes the end of this first race feel almost in reach.  Spirits are generally high as the sailing is straight-forward and we are making good progress.  However, there are some inter-watch frictions appearing, mostly our watch complaining about the other watch always being in the way when we are trying to get ready to come on watch.

Most of the time for the last few days, when on deck I have been wearing my Foulie Salopettes and water-proof jacket as the confused wave patterns mean that there are frequent inundations of spray.  During the nights, these extra layers are fine anyway, and during the day they act not only as a water-proof layer but also as effective sun-screen!

Adventures from Cape Verde onwards; 2nd-5th September

Day 14 ( Saturday 02 September 2017)

Bye Bye Butter

Sailing south through the tropics, heading pretty much due south.  Just north of the Cape Verde is the scoring gate.

We have run out of butter on the boat so breakfast bread and toast is without that luxury.  Fresh fruit has also run out so we are starting to live on tinned food and dried food.  However, there is still plenty here.  Water consumption is very high.  Lots of people are washing clothes and the mothers are often washing dishes with fresh water.  Interesting that there is such little awareness from so many of us as to the scarcity of our supplies.

 

At the moment I prefer the peaceful night time watches.  Being in the tropics means that there is no cold to worry about and the peace and quiet are lovely.  Just the noise of the boat pushing on through the water with no raucous laughter or other people’s choice of music.

 

I looked at the charts this morning to see how far we have come and how far still to go.  Punta del Este is 35 degrees south of the equator and we started from Liverpool, about 55 degrees north of the equator.  So far we have travelled about 35 degrees of latitude out of the 90 we have to complete, so there is still a long way to go.  It is interesting to watch and see how people are settling into the routines and to see how their attitudes are reflected in behaviours.  At one extreme there are those people who live life irrespective of those around them.  At the other extreme are those who are considerate to everyone else in all they do, and, of course, there are all the variations in between.  There may be a parallel with those who have quiet conversations and those who always want everyone to hear what they are saying!

 

Day 15 (Sunday 03 Sept 2017)

On Being Bosunish and Being Bathed in Baking Bright Light

The last couple of days has seen me doing various maintenance bits.  Yesterday it was putting luminous tape on the winches, winch handles and around the fore hatch, all so that they are more easily visible during a dark night.

Today’s main bit of “bosun” work was trying to construct a sun shelter for the helm positions.  The tropical sun is unrelenting and once the sun rises, it burns off the cloud and the boat is bathed in baking bright light.  So, working with Mikey through my off-watch, a trial sun shade has been created which at least provides some shelter to whoever is at the helm.  During the 4-6pm watch, it was decided that a deck wash was in order which not only washes away the dirt but also cools the deck and the boat.  Once the fire hose was out and running, this activity turned into a shower time for anyone who wanted a salt-water shower.  Bodies striped down to a pair of shorts took it in turns to be hosed down and to wash.  Apparently it was very refreshing for a while.

 

I am clearly very accustomed to the movement of the boat now.  At one point while making the helm sunshade, we had been stitching up the fabric down in the saloon area, below deck.  While heading up on deck with our creation, I looked up through the companionway hatch and was surprised to see the clouds moving backwards and forwards across the opening.  I had been totally unaware that we had been moving around so much!  In a way, it was a nice reinforcement that my fear of being seasick has disappeared!

 

Later on I took a few moments to relax from the hard work, sitting on deck looking out across the ocean.  How can I explain the sense of peace I get from being on a boat in the middle of the ocean?  Looking out at the wide horizon with no other ship anywhere to be seen, no land for many hundreds of miles, just the sea and the sky.  I love it.

 

Day 16 (Monday 04 September 2017)

Hot! Hot!! Not a Breeze to be felt!!!

Hot, hot and now windless.  This morning saw blue skies from horizon to horizon with a very clear sun rise followed by more baking heat.  We are about 100 miles north of the doldrums corridor.  We had a sneaky plan having looked at our position and the expected wind patterns.  We could head west around the north of the wind hole and with a bit of luck we would be able to sail all the way to the start of the corridor.  That was our plan but the wind gods have seen it otherwise.  At about 5 pm we ran out of wind and have been bobbing about on the ocean ever since.

 

I am pleased to have things to fix to keep my mind and hands busy.  The sailing evolutions are not my strength yet but it does seem that when it comes to keeping the equipment going, I can provide a good service to my crew.  The lack of wind is very frustrating and the boat is very hot.  I think I am lucky and have one of the bunks with the best ventilation but even so, on my last off-watch, I was very hot lying on my bunk.  We have our own mattress covers to sleep on and I was then lying on my silk sleeping bag liner but, with no breeze, I was feeling the heat.  Since waking up, we have gone nowhere.  A small shower passed by us but produced no wind with it and wasn’t hard and long enough to provide a washing opportunity.  I am looking forward to a nice shower when we finally manage to reach Punta.

[https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Los_Dedos_Punta_del_Este.jpg]

Day 17 (Tuesday 05 Sept 2017)

Hot! Hot!! Hot!!!

Hot.  Hot.  Yes it is very hot.  Yes, this is the tropics.

The wind picked up and we have had a great run down to and into the doldrums corridor.  Cruising along at between 8 and 11 knots, the boat feels alive and everyone is happy, if slightly frustrated by our earlier delay

 

I have a sore chest today.  I was trying to figure out why and realised, when I leant against my bunk.  The pain was exactly at the height of my bunk leading to the conclusion that I must have bashed myself sometime.   Not that there are so many, but the sail changes are taking their toll.  It is so hot below decks that wooling the spinnaker means that you are bathed in sweat by the time you have finished.  We put the wind seeker up earlier.  It went up very nicely, behind the yankee, just as it should, and then we dropped the yankee.  Oops, the tack line had not been secured so as soon as the yankee was out of the way and the wind seeker filled with wind, the tack tripped!.  So the windseeker had to come down again and it was back to hauling up the yankee, repack the wind seeker and put it up again.  Finally we were sailing as we should be.  Later in the day the wind picks up to beyond the windseeler’s range so we drop that again and hoist the code 1 (lightweight) spinnaker.  As I am hauling that up, the sore muscle in my chest is suddenly very painful – a pulled muscle I think.  Sitting down to rest I realise that I am feeling shattered.  Fortunately it is almost the end of the watch and time for a sleep.

 

Not feeling good at the moment.  It hurts to breath and it is so hot that I feel slightly sick.  It is as though I have suddenly run out of energy.  Everything is an effort and once again, all I want to do is sleep.  Up on deck the sun is hot but there is a breeze to help with the cooling.  My one and only long-sleeved, sun-top is skin-tight which makes it difficult to put on and take off, but once on it does cool nicely whenever there is a breeze.  Below decks is an oven.  We still boil the kettle for teas and coffees, make toast for breakfast, bake fresh bread and cook lunch and dinner.  All this turns below decks into a sauna.

High Drama in the Night

High drama later on in the night.  I was dozing in the galley saloon area and was vaguely aware of the noises of a sail evolution.  Suddenly there was a call for me to come on deck, so I put my life jacket on and went up and had a look around.  Oh no, our Code 1 (Lightweight) Spinnaker was hanging in shreds from the halyard and poor James (our watch leader) was swearing with frustration with this turn of events.  We had, we think, been the only boat in the fleet which had not significantly damaged a spinnaker until now.  Lance was called up, took one look and very calmly said, “Oh dear.”  We dropped the spinnaker and gathered it all together and put up the code 2 in its place but were all very disappointed at this turn of events.  James felt as though this was his fault which, while noble, is not true.  All these things are a team effort and it is communal responsibility.

Towards Liverpool; 12th-14th August

The Delivery to Liverpool

Day 4 – Sat 12 Aug 2017

What’s Been Happening:

A gentle day though it started with a good breeze and some nice sailing. Up for the  04:00 – 08:00 watch. Reaching back and forward in the Irish Sea south of Dublin. Then headed up towards Anglesey and the wind backed to the West. Light wind sailing towards Blackpool.

Had a chance to do deck walk on the port side. Corrected a few minor issues including a missing split pin on the top forward guard wire.

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Not in tune with the watch system yet. Struggled to wake up at 4am. My body didn’t feel awake until about 6am. Once awake, all was good. Feeling happy in the boat which is a huge relief after the earlier battles with seasickness. However the reality of 11 months of this is beginning to sink in.

Should I talk about the impacts of seasickness and living at 45 degrees of heel on toilet habits?  Probably not!

Crew:

In fine form. With the windseeker up we had Rick reclining on the beanbag, looking very relaxed while trimming. This caused good laughter as it seemed he was asleep in the sunshine.

Mothers are doing a great job with the food preparation (now that I am enjoying eating again)

I need to get better at spotting the photo opportunities and keeping my phone available.

Weather:

Breezy to begin with but the wind died down.  Beautiful day developed

Through the evening the wind dropped. For hours we struggled to make any headway.

Day 5 – Sunday 13 Aug 2017

What’s Been Happening:

Due to the changes in the wind the plan to go to the Isle of Man was changed and we headed to Blackpool Bay. Firstly his meant the journey back to Liverpool on Monday would be easier, secondly the Blackpool Air Show is on so we could watch it from the sea!

24:00 – 04:00 watch was great fun. We had 4 hours of breeze and sailed along beautifully.  The other watch unfortunately had no wind before us nor in the watch after us. Engine was turned on at 07:00 for the run up to Blackpool. Within wind and blue skies we got in with maintenance duties, including trying to fix our wrongly rigged outhaul.

Arrived off Blackpool in time to watch the air show!

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Really good to be able to feel some of the maintenance things coming under control. Good chat with Mark V (our Engineer) and pulled together a list of outstanding items to be done in Liverpool.

On days like this it is all easy and confidence is high. I’m still not thinking about the actual race start – that can wait.

The nerves are certainly beginning despite this. At the moment it seems to be more apprehension than excitement. Fear that I am going to be so uncomfortable that I won’t be able to continue, worry about not knowing what I am supposed to be doing, concern over how I am going to get along with the rest of the crew.

Crew:

Happy and content. Lots of laughter from both watches so that must be good.

Weather:

Glorious and sunny with no wind. Great for an airshow but not good for sailing!

Day 6 Monday 14 Aug 2017

What’s Been Happening:

Motored from Blackpool through the night towards Liverpool. Allowed to sleep through to my 06:00 start of watch as very little to be done overnight.

Was on Mother Watch today which meant doing the cooking – but an easy day as only had breakfast and lunch to do as we were arriving in Liverpool in the afternoon. Cereal and toast for breakfast and corned beef hash for lunch!

As the “home” boat, Liverpool 2018 led the Procession of Sail down from the mouth of the Mersey to the city centre docks. Pride of place!

Now safely berthed in the Albert Dock and ashore for a break.

How I’ve Been Feeling:

All is good. Looking forward to some time off between the final bits of boat prep to spend time with Bronwen.

The BIG day is fast approaching. Distraction by doing stuff helps as I don’t really want to think about what I am about to do.  Had a lovely message from a friend who did a couple of legs last race – encouraging but also some of the hard realities were mentioned. Time for a deep breath and the carry on with the course decided upon.

Crew:

Looking forward to arriving in Liverpool. Lots of talk of beer …

Weather:

…. not good. Raining early this morning. Dried up and was OK for our arrival into Liverpool. Now raining hard.

Towards Liverpool; 9th August 2017

The Delivery to Liverpool

Day 1 (9 Aug 217)

What’s Been Happening:

Left Gosport about 10:30 for Parade of Sail followed by Formation Sail off the Isle of Wight.

Once released from the Formation Sailing, we headed down towards Land’s End

Into the watch system from 16:00

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Although not very rough, started to feel seasick. Not good. Lunch didn’t last long. No supper. Not even water would stay down.

Slept whenever I could even for parts of the night watches.

Crew:

Seem happy. Settled into watch system. A few others feeling rough. The rest absolutely fine!

Weather:

Cold grey start to the day but with a good breeze. Dried up through the afternoon.  So calm seas and a nice wind from the north.

Day 2 (10 Aug 2017)

What’s Been Happening:

Sailing along south coast of England. Down to the Scilly Isles before heading North into the Irish Sea.

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Can’t understand why when the sea state is so calm I am still feeling sick. As soon as I stand … no, don’t go there!

Slept through off watch from 08:00 – 12:00. Then up on deck. Took helm to try to help how I felt. Good session.

Felt OK through the afternoon, 70%ish. Hungry at dinner time so that is a good sign that I am getting over it. Sausages and mashed potatoes were great.

Crew:

Everyone seems to be getting along fine.  Excellent work from those on mother watch keeping us fed.

Weather:

Lovely day with variable northerly winds. Flew the Windseeker for a while in light winds. Wind up to 16kt later on.

Day 3 (11 Aug 2017)

What’s Been Happening:

Gently heading north up trough the Bristol Channel and Irish Sea. No rush as we have more time to get to Liverpool than we need.

A grey start to the day which makes helming difficult. Nothing definitive to aim towards or to act as a reference.

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Was allowed to sleep through most of our 24:00 – 04:00 watch, sleeping on the saloon bench. So slept pretty much from 20:00 through to 08:00. Still started the day feeling below par. Struggled to put on my foulies and life jacket without overheating. But managed to have breakfast (cereal and a piece of toast) so not too bad.

Cold on deck but had a spell on the helm. Began to feel better again. Towards the end of the watch was feeling normal again.

We had advance warning of a Man Overboard Drill so I put on my dry suit and volunteered to be the rescue swimmer. The suit worked well and kept me dry and we rescued Bob so all was well. Amazing how a dunk in the sea cures any last vestiges of seasickness.

Crew:

All generally happy. The two watches have some good banter going on between them, just need to ensure that this doesn’t turn into sniping.

Weather:

Grey morning turned into a sunny afternoon. Wind was Northerly about 30kt but has swung around to the South-East and dropped to about 10kt. Sea state is calm.

Heading off now to the 20:00 – 24:00 watch as we head towards the Isle of Mann!

More to follow!

The Count-Down is Under Way

A few days ago we passed 50 days until the race start, so it must be time for an update!

Lots has happened since March: my Level 2 training where we learnt about 24hrs per day sailing and getting used to the watch system; the Clipper Race Coxswains Course with a complete refresher about navigation and safety at sea with a full systems review of our boats; my Level 3 training where we learnt about flying the spinnaker on these large boats.

 

It is confirmed that we start from Liverpool on 20 August.  Most of the race route has been confirmed:

Length Days at sea Races Ports Dates
1 Liverpool – Punta del Este, Uruguay 5,200 nmi 33 1 2 Aug – Sep 2017
2 Uruguay – Cape Town 3,400 nmi 18 1 2 Sep – Oct 2017
3 Cape Town – Freemantle, Perth 4,750 nmi 23 1 2 Oct – Nov 2017
4 Freemantle – Airlie Beach (Queensland) 4,300 nmi 28 3 4 Nov – Dec 2017
5 Airlie Beach – Qingdao, China 6,300 nmi 53 2 3 Dec 2017 – Feb 2018
6 Qingdao – Seattle USA 5,700 nmi 33 1 2 Feb – Apr 2018
7 Seattle – New York 5,400 nmi 38 2 3 Apr – May 2018
8 New York – Liverpool 3,350 nmi 22 2 3 Jun – Jul 2018

Seattle confirmed as West Coast USA Stop-Over

The latest announcement confirms that Seattle is again a host prot and will be sponsoring one of the boats.  We now seem to konw more about the second half of the race than the first!

Confirmed route so far:

Leg Race Start Port End Port
1 1 Unknown (UK) Unknown (South America)
2 2 Unknown (South America) Cape Town (South Africa)
3 3 Cape Town (South Africa) Unknown (West Australia)
4 4 Unknown (West Australia) Sydney (West Australia)
4 5 Sydney (West Australia) Hobart (Australia)
4 6 Hobart (Australia) Unknown (East Australia?)
5 7 Unknown (East Australia?) Sanya (Hainan Island)
5 8 Sanya (Hainan Island) Quingdao (China)
6 9 Quingdao (China) Seattle (USA)
7 10 Seattle (USA) Panama Canal
7 11 Panama Canal New York (USA)
8 12 New York (USA) Derry/Londonderry (UK)
8 13 Derry/Londonderry (UK) Unknown (Netherlands?)
8 14 Unknown (Netherlands?) Unknown (UK)

See the Clipper Round The World Announcement here:

Clipper Race Origins

Just come across this little video reminding me of the origins of Clipper and, to an extent, reminding me of why I am doing it!

Six Months to Go to the OFF

Time is rushing on … for my latest update please watch my video clip

What is the Clipper Round The World Race?

In essence, as it says on the tin, this is a race around the world.  A sailing race with a fleet of 12 identical yachts.  Each yacht has a professional skipper and the rest of the crew are amateurs who have paid for the privilege of sailing around the world or at least a part of it.

The race is split into eight legs and each leg can have more than one leg, as per the table below:

Leg Length Days at sea Races Ports Dates
1 UK – South America 5200 nmi 30 2 3 Aug – Sep 2017
2 South America – South Africa 3400 nmi 18 1 2 Sep – Oct 2017
3 South Africa – Western Australia 4750 nmi 26 1 2 Oct – Nov 2017
4 Western – Eastern Australia 4328 nmi 29 3 3 Nov – Dec 2017
5 Eastern Australia – China 6300 nmi 48 2 3 Dec 2017 – Feb 2018
6 China – West Coast USA 5700 nmi 30 1 2 Feb – Apr 2018
7 West Coast USA – East Coast USA 5400 nmi 32 3 3 Apr – May 2018
8 East Coast USA – UK 3350 nmi 24 3 4 Jun – Jul 2018

The race scores like a Formula 1 season with points awarded for each race though there are additional points on offer for particular elements of the race such as going around a particular way point and for an “Ocean Sprint”.  You can also lose points for damage to the yacht or its sails and equipment.

Clipper tries hard to balance all the teams to make it as equal a race as possible, balance in terms of gender mix, age mix, experience mix.  The idea is that winning is decided by the best decision making and not due to any built in advantage in the crew.  One element of crew selection that they don’t try to balance is competitiveness where they try to put all the ultra-competitive people on the same boat and the same for the party people.

And yes, I have chosen to do all 8 of these legs.  One leg seemed too easy so there was no option except to go for the whole thing!!