Sailing: Champagne and a sea of interviews wrap up a great adventure

After eight months and 30,000 miles Pindar's skipper has completed the Around Alone race and is now finding her land legs
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The Independent Online

Yesterday morning, with a low pressure system heading quickly up the coast, I knew we were in for a twist in this tale

Saturday 3 May c.160 miles to Newport, Rhode Island, 11.05pm

Yesterday morning, with a low pressure system heading quickly up the coast, I knew we were in for a twist in this tale. Some twist. Last night the conditions were terrifying. The opposing directions of the current and the wind were creating huge waves, I don't know quite how big because it was too dark to see. The wind's been gusting at 60 knots. Pindar's been thrown from one wave to the next, surfing at speeds of up to 27 knots and then being slammed into the troughs. The added danger is we're inside an area of increasing commercial traffic. I'm a bit battered but my main concern is the boat. One of the other skippers, Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali, lost his mast overnight. My priority is to get home in one piece. At least I seem to be coming out the other side now. The weather's still foul and so are the waves, the radar's given up and the pilot has died a couple of times. But one more long night and then we're there, I hope.

Sunday 4 May Newport, Rhode Island, 11.50pm

I still can't quite believe it. I've done it. It's over. I came across the finish line, after eight months and 30,000 miles, at 21:15.26 BST precisely. What a feeling. I've tried to imagine what finishing would be like. But the reality is like having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Seeing my sister, my shore team, all the boats who came out to meet me, all the people waiting on the pontoon – absolutely incredible. And then after parking Pindar to a huge cheer – I don't think I'll ever experience quite that feeling again – I noticed a familiar face on the pontoon. My great aunt Biddy (aged 85) had even come all the way from England! I announced her presence and she got a huge cheer too! Since then it's been champagne, interviews, interviews and more interviews.

Tuesday 6 May, American Airways Flagship Lounge, Boston Airport, 6pm

Pretty much the whole of yesterday was spent doing interviews and then I had an evening unwinding with family and friends. I arrived here and have been brought to the First Class lounge and VIP area, which is a novelty. But I can't wait to just get on the plane and get home.

Wednesday 7 May London, 9pm

What an extraordinary day. After landing at Heathrow at 6am and being fast-tracked through customs, I was amazed to see five TV crews, about 20 photographers and a posse of bleary-eyed journalists. My brother Dave was also there – he'd made it before rushing off to work – and so was Tracy Edwards and her three-year-old daughter, Mackenna. It was such a great surprise to see some friendly faces and very kind of them to make it. I went straight to the BBC to appear on Breakfast TV and then did four hours of back-to-back interviews. By lunch I was so tired I couldn't eat. It was time to cancel some afternoon interviews and borrow the keys to a friend's flat. Within 30 seconds of walking through the door I was passed out on the sofa. Eight months' ocean racing and then jet lag are not a good mix. Time for more sleep.

Thursday 8 May London, 6pm

Interviews all day again, interspersed with a bit of shopping this afternoon to find an outfit for the Laureus World Sports Awards which I am attending in 10 days' time.

Friday 9 May Helensburgh Sailing Club, 2pm

So this is it. The last diary entry of the trip. It seems appropriate it should be written here because effectively it's where the journey started. This is where I was brought up, on the west coast of Scotland, and this is where, 20-odd years ago, that I learned to sail as a child. The Sailing Club arranged a wonderful reception for me this morning and it seems like half the town turned out! Without the support of everyone – family, friends, shore team, my sponsor Andrew Pindar, everyone who's read my ramblings and sent good luck messages – there's no doubt I'd either have gone completely insane or never made it at all. It's been some adventure. Thank you, everyone.

www.aroundalone.com

www.pindar.com

www.education.hsbc.com

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