With heavy hearts, the crew of GBR90 40 degrees announced its retirement from the RORC 600 Caribbean race at 0800 on Friday, 26 February 2010 off the North coast of Guadeloupe with some 140 miles to go.
Another mariner wrote of the wind that, "to be rich is a fine thing, to be poor is a fine thing, but to be prospectively rich, that is a torment." Such a notion summarises our last five days: we spent a fine and glorious two days in rich winds, a calm and engaged day in poor winds, but we have since been tormented by the prospect of rich air amidst our windless poverty.
Last evening passed with more great beauty, as we made a sunset round of La Desiderade and began what we hoped would be a 90 mile run North West to Barbuda. After a number of fruitless but energetic sail changes, we had leisure to enjoy the splendour of the evening, as the sailing (or floating, more properly put) did not demand the strictest attention. Short-lived gusts of 6-7 knots gave our optimism cause to ignore the more common 2-3 knot wind speed average. When rosy dawn awoke, her brilliance reflected cleanly across a glassy sea. This utter calm made clear that we would not finish the race before Sunday or Monday. This reality, a fate leading some to consider putting Michael out to sea with an albatross about his neck, was as unacceptable as the alternative of retirement. Caught between our own emotional Scylla and Charybdis, the crew held together and in fine spirits decided as a team to retire. This challenging decision gave way to much banter, raucous humour and a soul and body cleansing swim in the deep and still azure below. The stunningly clear water (1500 feet beneath us) gave a view of the beautiful keel and rudders of 40 Degrees, and the sight of such a fine boat lying so motionless was grave indeed.
Thus determined, we have begun to motor home to Falmouth Harbour and the warm welcome of the peerless RORC team and the embrace of the homely Antigua Yacht Club. Niall has kept our spirits up by describing menus of future meals that will hopefully best our biscuits and peanuts fare of last evening. Inevitably, our focus must move to shore matters, such as where to see Ireland beat England at Twickenham tomorrow and how many rum punches it takes to transition from amusing companion to slobbering idiot at tonight's prize-giving party
Our first task ashore will be to sign up for the next running of this magnificent race and to thank everyone who so kindly made our participation possible. Our boat captain, our mermaid, Miranda Merron, is top of our list of admiration and appreciation for her supreme skills, endless patience and constant good humour. We are also grateful to Peter Harding, who kindly lent us this stunning vessel, and to Sam Goodchild who had her in immaculate condition.
Thank you to you all, our faithful supporters and interested readers.
Congratulations to the first-to-finish Region Guadeloupe and Beau Geste and to all competitors - finishers especially.
Thank you especially to Niall Dowling, our inspiring leader, and John Patrick Cunningham, our poet and philosopher. You have proved true the saying of La Rouchfoucauld, we think it was, that '... the land divides, the sea unites'.
Michael, Niall, John, Miranda