Winning the America’s Cup must have seemed like child’s play compared to the sailing odyssey that awaits Kiwi Blair Tuke as he warms up for a round the world race that begins in October.
Along with hoping to not sail of the edge or being way laid when he gets to the section on the chart that says, “Here There Be Monsters,” Tuke was one of the sailors for the Spanish Mapfre team that recently lost the Fastnet Race in Britain to China’s Dongfeng Race team.
Tuke’s boat was one of the seven of the Volvo Race Fleet that was using the Fastnet for a warmup for the circumnavigational race to come in October. The Fastnet Race was the second of three trials and after a race that took two-and-a-half days to complete, only about two-thirds of an hour separated first place from last.
Mapfre won the Isle of Wight race last week by a narrow margin and has the next race in line as the boats compete to see which can cover the span from Plymouth, England to St. Malo, France the quickest.
Considering the distances involved, the competition has been tight. According to Tuke, “If going round the world is anything like this it’s going to be a long nine months. You make one mistake and someone will pass you. You think you have been going well for a while and you look around and the other boats are still right there.”
Tuke had no such observations regarding the America’s Cup. It took Long John Silver’s best spyglass to locate U.S. Team Oracle, which spent the series far aft of the New Zealand Team Emirates catamaran.
The finishing order of the Fastnet Race was: Dongfeng, Mapfre, Team Brunel, Team AkzoNobel, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic.