Ken Read: My Ultimate Sailing moment
Published on November 11th, 2014
Photographer Sharon Green, in her newly released coffee table book 30 Years of Ultimate Sailing, sought out the leaders in the sport to share their Ultimate Sailing moments. Here Ken Read provides his…
It’s hard to pick just one Ultimate Sailing moment, because the sport has blessed me with more than I really deserve. And because sailing around the planet a couple of times probably dulls the senses and kills a bit of memory. So I will stick to recent history: Volvo Ocean Race Leg Five, after a serious butt kicking …
We had just left New Zealand with a two-part weather pattern which was surely about to kick the fleet’s ass. First, a gale to the north on the first night of the leg. One boat down – heading back to Auckland for repairs – and two of our crew injured; one with a dislocated shoulder and the other a severely tweaked back. Both in bunks for the unforeseeable future.
After a 12-hour becalming, on came weather system number two. Ten days of nonstop gale force winds in a low pressure system that reached from New Zealand all the way to Chile, covering the entire South Pacific. So with no place to hide, the fleet dove in head first.
Freezing temperatures, nearly freezing water, 35-50 knots of wind for day after day after day. One boat after another took their feet off the pedals, with breakdowns. All except for two of the Volvo 70’s – who after what seemed like an eternity of mammoth seas and injuries, rounded Cape Horn within an hour of each other: miraculously still in one piece. We were one of those boats. And as we rounded, the breeze calmed and we tucked in next to the incredible, battered and infamous rock, and counted our blessings. We were heading north. Heading home. Bruised but not broken.
A sip of rum, a good cigar, some hugs and smiles that will last a lifetime for that 11 person crew.
Only to win that leg into Brazil. What a sport!
Click here for information about Sharon Green’s 30 Years of Ultimate Sailing.