The leg from Panama Colon to Port Antonio has assumed the dubious honour of being Spirit of Cardiff’s slowest leg with an average of just 4.4 knots…

The leg from Panama Colon to Port Antonio has assumed the dubious honour of being Spirit of Cardiff’s slowest leg with an average of just 4.4 knots? Clive Tully reports:

“It’s the most amazing of contrasts. The final couple of hours coming into Port Antonio on Tuesday evening sees us doing very nearly 25 knots. We tie up just after dark, where we’re met by Tracy Prows, manager of the Port Antonio Marina. It’s a tremendous relief to step ashore, damp and aching, after nearly six days at sea.

This leg has proved to have been even slower than our passage from Naha, Okinawa to Choshi in Japan, where we covered virtually twice the distance, AND had three unscheduled nights ashore sheltering from storms.

Our heartfelt commiserations go to the Skandia Ocean Row team, whose attempt to row across the Alantic in record time and become the first such attempt to make a landfall in England has been abandoned due to a broken rudder. There are times when we too thought the game was up, but we’ve always managed to pull another rabbit out of the hat. Despite drive and autopilot problems, smashed windscreens, losing a propeller, illness, injuries and numerous huge storms, we’ve kept our goal in sight.

As it is, some elements of the media consider us as already having failed because we didn’t break Cable and Wireless Adventurer’s overall around the world record. When the UIM, the international governing body of powerboating, set the rules for circumnavigating the world, they very sensibly set different classes for records, recognising that you can’t really match a boat 115ft long with one that’s 33ft. It would be rather like putting Prince Nazeem in the same ring with Lennox Lewis and expecting an even fight.

We wanted to attempt the Cable and Wireless record because the inequality of the contest appealed to us, and in good conditions, Spirit of Cardiff is the faster boat, both on paper and on water. We proved that in October 2000 when we easily beat Adventurer’s fastest leg around the world, from Gibraltar to Monaco. Given the right conditions from Horta to Gibraltar, Adventurer’s last round the world leg, maybe we’ll prove it again.

In the meantime, we’re in the process of stripping everything out of the boat, drying things off, and tracking down the source of the gremlins in the navigation electronics. We’re going to have a day or so here to recuperate, but in the meantime we’re looking closely at the weather for the next hop to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. And hopefully this time it will be just a hop.”