It's game time. And we started about as well as we could have.
Lisbon, Portugal, was a fantastic stopover. Lots and lots of fans. An amazing and historic city that gave the Read family a lot to do outside of sailing. All in all it was about as much rest as I have had since this adventure began. I feel pretty good starting this leg, which is a pretty rare feeling at this time in this young boy's life.
And I guess it showed these past couple days. A come-from-behind, second-place finish in the In-Port Race was a big one for us. We nipped CAMPER and Abu Dhabi at the finish. Telefónica managed to do their typical "first or last" routine in the In-Port Races - this time finishing last which resulted in some needed points for the rest of us. Only drawback for us, Groupama won the race and are sailing well. We lost one point to them in the standings, and we need to start reeling them in if we are to have a chance.
We then nailed a somewhat risky port tack Leg Start and led the fleet out the river back into the Atlantic Ocean. Doesn't mean much in the big picture other than it was a few moments of glory for our fans, I would imagine. It was a bit scary on that start line, though. Volvo race officials seem to be putting the start lines in riskier positions every start. This one was dicey for sure. A downwind start. You could barely cross the line on starboard, and if you started on port there was a chance you would run aground soon after the start. But, we got a sharp right-hand shift about 2 minutes before the start and bailed out on our starboard tack lineup only to cross the fleet on port tack by about a boat length. If we hadn't crossed we would still probably be there trying to pull the boats apart. I guess it is the time in the race for us to take a chance or two. We really have nothing to lose.
And, it is all about the points now. Two legs to go. Two In-Ports to go. A maximum of 70 points up for grabs. We are close but will still need Telefónica and Groupama to make a few mistakes. That is the price you pay for comebacks. The people ahead need to help.
We are heading to another place where sailing is king: Lorient, France. Actually the home and training base for Groupama. Will they have an advantage? Maybe. But if Miami was any example, Franck Cammas might have a lot on in Lorient. I was pretty overwhelmed in Miami with all of the extracurricular activities that had to be done. Of course you could always say no, but that isn't what this is all about. When you can speak for the race and your sport and your sponsors you simply do it. We can all sleep next year. And knowing how much France, and especially the area we are going to, is into sailing, Franck might have a bit on!
It's off to the Azores prior to heading to Lorient. Just making this entire trip a bit longer, if it is possible. It would have been too easy just to go directly from Lisbon to Lorient. So, lets send the fleet 2.000 miles out around a remote island and then back into a fairly large developing storm that should beat us up for the last couple days of this six-day leg. Yup, sounds pretty standard. Knock on wood the old black boat is still up to it. And it's crew for that matter.
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