Sailing: After six days on land all I want is to return to sea
Part 4: Emma Richards, the skipper of Pindar, yearns for the restart of the Around Alone single-handed round-the-world yacht race
Saturday 05 October 2002
Sunday 29 September, an hour past the Lizard, 01.37
The short tack south I made a few days ago paid off better than I could have hoped. I passed the Lizard an hour ago and I'm only 60 miles from the finish. To round off a perfect 24 hours in which I gained two places, I had a chat on the radio with Michael Ellison from the World Sailing Speed Record Council.
He confirmed I'm now a record holder for being the first women to complete a solo west to east trans-Atlantic monohull crossing. With land – and people – getting closer, I decided to heat some water and wash my hair for the first time in two weeks. So there I was, dunking my head in and out of a bucket with the phone going every two minutes with people anxious to find out where I was. Then I had a feast of cous cous and tuna to set me up for a night of "hazard dodging" along the coast. I don't quite know what to think at the moment. I'm just about rounding Start Point then it'll be Berry Head. Then the finish line and a cup of tea. (Or other refreshment).
Sunday 29 September, Imperial Hotel, Torquay, 23.47
Where did today go? I crossed the finish line in fourth place at 07.07. The scrutineers jumped on to check the engine seal and then my dad, sister and shore crew were allowed to follow. Had a good hug – the only thing I've really missed. Felt a mixture of excitement, relief and pride. The adrenalin was definitely pumping. Got my magnum of champagne, sprayed it and shared it and then went off to be greeted by my family, my sponsor, the people of Brixham, all of whom made the whole thing feel worthwhile.
The personal achievement felt just awesome. Just four legs and about 26,000 miles to go! Into a press conference where someone kindly put a pint in my hand before I even sat down. A very British welcome. Then back to Hatherleigh – Pindar's sister ship – for a fry-up. Then four hours of interviews, radio and TV. Felt surprisingly well after no sleep for 48 hours. At 6pm I had my first shower for two weeks. Heaven. Back to Brixham for a few beers with the other skippers and then back here to bed. Which isn't moving, which almost feels strange.
Wednesday 2 October, Imperial Hotel, Torquay, 23.00
After only a couple of days on land – the stops are mandatory between each of the five legs of the race – I feel ready to get back on the boat, but there's plenty to do before that. Pindar came out of the water today. The gearbox on the sail drive unit is leaking, so we've had to lift the boat out to fix it. We've also taken both the rudders out to check the rudder bearings. Hope there aren't any major problems. Decided to have an early night. Had a long hot soak in the bath. When you've been at sea for two weeks and been wearing the same thermals, all you want to do is have eight baths a day.
Friday 4 October, Soho, 13.00
I'm in London, half-way through a very hectic media day. This time last week I was desperately looking forward to hitting land. Right now I can't wait to go back to sea. Still, there seems to be a lot of interest in what I'm doing and this will be my last time in the UK until next April. So I've done BBC Breakfast TV, Five Live, Women's Hour on Radio Four. And I was also supposed to do an interview with a journalist from the Daily Telegraph (who I promised will remain nameless) but he decided against it after he realised that being a single-handed sailor didn't mean I only had one hand. Ho hum.
Anyway, now I'm off to do my first-ever fashion shoot (fashion shoot!!), for Tommy Hilfiger, who sponsor my fellow competitor Brad Van Liew. Hopefully, I can blag some free clothes although I'll have to leave them all behind soon. Tomorrow it's back down to Torbay to prepare for the small task of the second leg to Cape Town.
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