With a new year came new restrictions. The COVID world continues to affect us all but each country has a slightly different take on it. The UK was buoyed by the news of a vaccine and, although the roll out has been on full throttle, the death rate continues to rise, making us one of the worst hit nations and therefore our lockdown measures remain stringent.

Frustrations are evident and with the timing falling as it has at the start of a new year it all seems slightly more difficult. I generally consider myself a glass half full person but even I have had to dig deep into my reserves to push through and find the positivity again. The colder weather and shorter days have not helped, with dark grey skies and wet flooded ground making even the daily dog walk a test of endurance and resolve.

I have tried to kick start my fitness once more, keeping a routine and structure around my day, raising my heart rate and releasing some feel-good endorphins into my system. It seems to have been working and I feel better for it and certainly less guilty when I eat cake!

Some of this inspiration has come from the greatest distraction we have been blessed with since the start of November, the Vendee Globe. The race has been riveting and the competing sailors have put on an amazing display of resilience, tenacity and resolve to push beyond their comfort zone and achieve a remarkable feat of endurance. This is the closest race in history and, for the first time, we saw the sailor that crossed the finish line first actually finish in second place. Back on 30th November, Kevin Escoffier took to his life raft after his boat, PRB sank beneath him in the Southern Ocean just after the Cape of Good Hope. Four fellow competitors were tasked with searching and rescuing Kevin from his life raft. 11 hours later it was Jean Le Cam that found Kevin and successfully saved his life. The sailors involved in the search and rescue were awarded time compensation for their efforts when they returned to the race. This was decided by an International Jury and the time compensation amounts were awarded on the 16th December. Jean Le Cam was awarded 16 hours 15 minutes, Yannick Bestaven was awarded 10 hours 15 minutes and Boris Herrmann was awarded 6 hours. These times were then applied to their finishing times. On the night of Wednesday 27th January and into Thursday 28th January the first 8 boats arrived in close succession. Once the time allowances were taken into account the podium positions were Yannick Bestaven on Maitre Coq in 1st place, Charlie Dalin on Apivia in 2nd place and 3rd Louis Burton on Bureau Vallee taking 3rd place. A huge congratulations to all the sailors finished and those still out racing. As always there are so many stories within the race itself and it has been a great example of tenacity and resilience from all the sailors involved that we all needed to see and hear about during these difficult times of COVID restrictions

The other exciting event that has been a great diversion to help lift our spirits through this tough time, is the Prada Cup taking place in New Zealand. We have seen Ineos Team UK racing in their amazing AC75 foiling yacht Britannia to four victories in a row in the round robin stages, winning them a place direct into the final of the Prada Cup that takes place in February. Luna Rosa Pirelli and American Magic have been battling it out to face the British team and it is Luna Rosa Pirelli we will see in the finals. The winner will then earn the right to take on the defenders of the America’s Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand in March. The racing has been super close, exciting and not without drama as we saw American Magic close to sinking after a capsize at 45knots during racing. For onscreen spectators, it has been better than we could have ever imagined and for the locals in New Zealand we see them enjoying a mask free existence and able to live normal lives as they do not have COVID in their country. Having been missing it our own lives, it has been lovely to catch a glimpse of human interaction, even if seeing people so close together seems strange to us already!

Nature is doing the best she can to help keep us positive. Days are getting longer and some of the bulbs I planted last October are starting to appear in the garden, heralding the arrival of spring. James Harayda and I plan to put the boat back in the water next month so we can start sailing again and we are looking forward to a double handed season of fun, exciting and competitive racing.

Dee Caffari

British yachtswoman Dee Caffari is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world three times. In 2006 Dee became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world against the prevailing winds and currents and was awarded an MBE in recognition of her achievement.

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