Clipper Race Update: Visit Seattle on South Atlantic Challenge

This is the fourth in a series of blogs by Dell Ambassadors competing in the Clipper Race, a 40,000 nautical mile race around the world in 70-foot racing yachts. You can find the most recent post from Samantha Harper, and the previous post from Marek Omilian, here on Direct2Dell. For more background on Dell’s involvement, read our initial blog about this exciting race here.

Dell Rugged Latitude Laptop below deck in Clipper ship

The South Atlantic Challenge Leg 2: Punta del Este, Uruguay to Cape Town, South Africa: 3,560 nautical miles: 14 days

Two weeks, 7 hours, 39 minutes, and 10 seconds. What an exhilarating Leg 2 race! It was so different than the marathon of the Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1. It was like a two-week sprint. We had no time for anything: just eat, sleep, sail, repeat.

Well, we had time for some stats, strategising, and emailing our families and friends. For the last three to five days, we shared a detailed update on the position of the various boats within the fleet during our happy hour at lunchtime. We flipped the screen to use the Dell Rugged as a tablet in order to draw in the positions of the different boat. We also kept stats on speeds in order to compare them to our speed. This resulted in either a celebration or trying to figure out how to match our competitor’s speed.

The last 24 hours was epic – the best sailing and ocean racing experience I have experienced so far. We were in a pack with Liverpool 2018 and Qingdao for most of the race, ever since the three of us went for the Scoring Gate in the first thousand nautical miles.

The last 24 hours was epic – the best sailing and ocean racing experience I have experienced so far.

For much of the race, Liverpool 2018 was consistently in front of us. We sailed hard in the final days, steadily closing the gap, and we did it all in very strong winds of well over 30 knots. The wind started backing slowly with about 100 nautical miles to go, and our gap to Liverpool 2018 shrunk to just 3 nautical miles. We were so close we saw the boat on AIS (Automatic Identification System) and monitored its speed and direction.

Suddenly, we noticed Liverpool 2018 had pulled away, and increased the lead to 6 nautical miles! We knew the team had put up the spinnaker, so we instantly matched the sail plan. I was Off-Watch but couldn’t sleep as the adrenaline was still very high.

sailor above deck on clipper shipI sat in the Navigation Station and relayed information back to the helm. At some point, we thought the intercom stopped working so I started using a small poster sign to show the distance we were behind Liverpool 2018; 5.7 nautical miles, 5.6, 5.5, 5.4… then things stagnated at around 5.4 nautical miles as both boats were sailing at the same speed.

I decided to take a nap. Now, my top bunk was right below (5 inches or so) the active spinnaker sheet winch. Even noise cancellation headphones would not cancel the grinding and easing noises. Even so, I managed to dose off for few minutes. The alarm clock woke me up at 17:45 UTC, and I climbed down from the bunk and went back to the Nav station. I noticed the distance to Liverpool 2018 remained the same at 5.5 nautical miles with just 30 nautical miles to go to the finish line. Suddenly, Liverpool 2018 changed direction and its speed dropped dramatically. I immediately relayed the message to the helm via intercom. We all suspected the team must have lost a spinnaker. I kept watching on AIS and we rapidly started closing. Thirty minutes later, we had passed the pink boat and pulled ahead by about 2 nautical miles.

Liverpool 2018 must have righted the ship then as its speed went up. It was most certainly not flying the spinnaker, but the boat was still going fast. This meant the last 15 to 20 nautical miles were very tactical. We had to cross the TSS (Traffic Separation Area) at the right angle or radio Cape Town Port Control to get permission to cross any other way. The wind kept easing, and we dropped the spinnaker and hoisted yankee and staysail. Liverpool 2018 was on our heels, but we kept the same distance till the finish line. In the end, we crossed the South Atlantic Ocean in 14 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes, and 10 seconds. Liverpool 2018 crossed the finish line only 27 minutes later.

Marek Omilian headshotAbout Marek Omilian, crew member, Visit Seattle

Marek Omilian, 53 from Seattle, USA, is undertaking the full 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation on board Visit Seattle. The father of two grew up sailing centre-board boats in the Sea Scouts in his native Poland, and after immigrating to the USA in his twenties, he began sailing keelboats and has been racing in the Puget Sound since 2015.

Being a Dell Ambassador was a natural fit for Omilian, who has a computing and analyst background and runs his own valuation and management consultant firm. Other than the pride of arriving in his home port of Seattle, Omilian is hoping his Clipper Race experience will challenge him both physically and mentally, and create life-long friendships with his teammates. And, of course, result in winning the coveted Clipper Race Trophy.

About the Author: Chris Morley

Chris has spent his entire 18 year career in the PC business, with roles in product development, product management, product marketing, and PR, as well as executive roles in various system builders around the US, winning dozens of Editor’s Choice Awards in the process. He’s worked for start-ups, established small businesses, and is enjoying his first stint at what he considers to be the best Tier 1 technology solutions company in the business, insisting that he’s not biased in believing so. He currently is the PR lead for Dell Latitude Rugged mobility devices, and is a part of one of the best PR teams in the business; again, his unbiased personal opinion. Chris has a bachelor's in Marketing Management and is finishing his MBA at Western Governors University. He enjoys flying drones, kayaking on the San Marcos river, and underwater cinematography, as well as spending time with his wife and three daughters.