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Thread: 4 Down, 1 to Go Christopher-Stanmore Major Arrives in Cape Town

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    4 Down, 1 to Go Christopher-Stanmore Major Arrives in Cape Town

    Chris Stanmore-Major crossed the finish line at 16.44 South African time, 4th in leg 1.

    CSM reflects on ocean sprint 1 as he approaches Cape Town

    Congratulations first to Derek Hatfield and the Active House team on their podium position - I tried my best to catch him but it just wasn't enough! I hope Derek enjoys this well-earned position with his friends and family who I am sure will be there expectantly waiting for him. For me there are still two more nights at sea before I can experience the pleasure of tying up for a little while and stretching my legs on a walk of more than 60ft in one direction. It has been an unfortunate twist of luck that first unexpected and un-forecasted three day Spartan-sized windhole gave the opposition 200Nm for free and then a small but deep low has come in to test my gear and patience just once more before I get in- together they put paid to my own estimations of my arrival on the 20th and caused the last section of this incredible leg to be somewhat of a bind as I struggle with the extended time at sea versus the soft white sheets and full night's sleep I had promised myself. At the moment I must remind myself to dislocate myself from my expectations somewhat and that as with any voyage- you just get in when you get in.

    After keeping my head down for the past few days in this foul weather I have begun to reflect on the past month and tried to analyze what I have got out of this trip if not the podium position I was so keen for. As with any racing the emphasis initially is all about position but unlike inshore racing out here when it becomes apparent that a good position may not be available you have plenty of time to cast around and find other things to take from the experience. I think for me there is pride in having brought this boat with all her little, shall we say 'idiosyncrasies', 7500Nm down from La Rochelle and the satisfaction of the work I have completed and the challenges I have over come to make that happen. There are warm memories of the spectacular departure from the shores of France and the feelings of those first nights at sea with the longest single ocean journey of my life ahead of me and the mounting realization that what had been a faraway day-dream for so long was suddenly real and required my undivided attention for the next 30 days.

    There was the short cut across the top of Spain that pulled my up to second and then the crashing disappointment of falling into a wind hole I could have avoided had I been able to receive a weather forecast in those first five days which irrevocably separated me from the fleet. Off Gran Canaria more highs and lows as I experienced the highest speeds I have yet seen in this boat but then pushed it too far and destroyed a sail I would come to miss again and again in the following weeks. The Doldrums and the equatorial regions were difficult sailing with squalls and prolonged calms but the beauty of those skies in the Doldrums, occasional visits from Dolphins and of course the arrival of my on-going companion and dawn chorus - Mr Cricket were fun distracting events that I shall remember always. South of the equator I felt sure I could catch Derek and by hard work and a little luck only a week ago I was celebrating him being just 120Nm ahead but it wasn't to be and instead I must focus on the personal development I have gone through and the readjustment of my world view that has occurred in this strange bouncing, noisy, exhilarating, often terrifying domain I inhabit.

    Over the month there are many amazing events to bring to mind and each is made more memorable by the uniqueness of this environment and the peculiar and still strange situation of being alone whilst experiencing them. Each is given sharp relief and contrast by the accompanying difficult phases and which in a setting as hard as this makes one newly appreciative and thankful for small things that have until now perhaps been taken for granted.

    This will be my last blog as I have just come down on deck having sighted Table Mountain in the far distance. After years voyaging all over the world in which I have always been non-plussed to make landfall I found myself this time shouting and punching the air with jubilation. This journey has been long, it is the longest single ocean crossing I have ever done and it is the longest period of time I have spent alone. The sailing was challenging and hard at times but I have overcome the problems put in my path and as we arrive now into Cape Town in one piece and making good speed the boat is a credit to everyone that put in their time and effort in to get her onto the water. Being alone has also not in its self been a problem- I always knew I was happy in my own company and that has been true here- despite even the distinct lack of reading materials or music beyond of course Ms Nina Simone who is once again playing, this time in celebration of the sighting of land and has been the oft-repeated soundtrack of this adventure since leaving France.

    What has surprised me though is the unique perspective that one takes when away from the distractions of everyday life and the rewriting of what is important that occurs when you have time to sit and really consider without interruption the events that have shaped you and the decisions you have taken that have led up to that moment. This kind of event is certainly a unique and ultimately difficult sailing event but I am not so sure if it is really the solo challenge I imagined beforehand. Unless you have lived your life in a bubble or taken a vow to be a hermit somewhere cold and windy, I find you are never truly alone. Memories of those dear to you are your constant companions in every moment out here, small gestures and the tiny tableau's of life that would pass unnoticed and unremembered in normal times become the object of consideration for many hours and the importance of relationships and the effect of separation on those connections becomes all too clear.

    For those who push the boundaries of what is possible there is always the feeling that the great sacrifices we are making are a kind of payment made to those you care about- as if by completing an
    impossible task you are toiling for others- the greater the difficulty, the greater your gift. In the darkest hours before dawn on a freezing mountainside or soaked to the skin and shivering in a gale the warm thoughts of those most important to us nourish and protect against the reality of the situation and provide a glimpse of the depth of our own emotions; those core values that seem hard to express properly when things are just tootling along serenely in everyday life. Whilst it may not be apparent outwardly in facing physically difficult circumstances there is a hidden inner-satisfaction to be gained in once again connecting with your feelings towards family, friends and your partner.

    The balance perhaps that I have become aware of is that if you are not careful in your endeavours to challenge yourself to strive for ever more unreachable goals there comes a point when you are not climbing the mountain to get back down again to your loved ones, you are climbing to the top to simply to see if another peak awaits. 45Nm to go and after 7455Nm I have a new perspective on what is important to take forward from here. As I step ashore in Cape Town I will be looking forward to seeing Aston and Donna my shore crew who are in Cape Town now but my thoughts will also be with those who are not here, who are most dear to me and the ways in which I can best demonstrate a new understanding of what is important not to me, but to them. ~It's not the size of the website, it's how you use it! ~

  2. #2
    I really enjoy CSM's blogs, guess it will be a couple weeks til they set out again?

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