The Volvo Ocean Race is an event that you get to watch unfold as something real. What happens on these boats day-to-day, what’s sent, what’s written about, what’s photographed, what’s on video is REAL.
When you wake at 3am, it’s dark, really dark. You hear the wind chime its echo through the rigging above you, you feel the walls of your home flex in and out due to the waves, the bunk lurches from side to side, and you know that your shift is coming up. That is authentic, that is our reality. This is “the experience” we experience.
As our youngest crew member Tom Johnson puts it: “The ups are ups and the downs are downs, and an up can turn into a down really quickly or vice-versa. It’s a bit rawer out here maybe, it hits home pretty quickly. If you are feeling a bit down, there’s nothing you can do about it, you’ve just got to keep going and keep pushing on. It’s a pretty interesting race so far. Mentally, I find it hard to be at sea for this long, I think it’s probably one of the hardest things about this race for me.”
For a different perspective, I asked navigator Wouter Verbraak, a well-educated and travelled individual whose answers often take me by surprise. I asked whether he thought that this race was one of the few remaining true human adventures. He replied: “This is just a very microscopic world of the big world, but everything is really amplified. You have many more ups and downs than you would have in normal life at home. That’s what makes it quite special you know, going through these big swings. You learn to deal with a lot of unexpected things. This is what makes it so pure, makes it human.”
For Peter Popp Wibroe, the authenticity of the race comes from the fact that “everything happens around you, you experience it the first time. You don’t read about the storm or see pictures of the beautiful sunsets, you experience them firsthand. You’re there when it happens, as it happens. It’s massive, it’s beautiful”
I was explaining to Chris how difficult a task it is to describe the real elements of this race and he really understood the values I was trying to convey. He spoke to me about his father who passed away seven years ago whilst at sea competing in a transatlantic race. A situation like this brings the authenticity, the reality and the purest form of human existence to light.
Despite this being the most real life can get, it’s a difficult topic to write about. Perhaps that’s why there are always more fiction books lining the bookshelves! Or maybe I’m not there just yet as a writer, either way I’m trying to bring you something that delivers a non-fictional look at our team’s daily reality. I hope I’ve achieved some of what I set out to do…
This is our reality. What’s yours? #Jointherace and make a pledge for the future!