“No, NO! Go south!” Ryan grumbles, waking me up out of a deep sleep. I open my eyes to find him in bed next to me, glaring at his iPhone.
We’re buried under a pile of duvets in a cozy double room at the Amphitheatre Backpackers in Drakensberg, South Africa, fully awake. But it will be some time before we get out to enjoy the crisp air and mountain views.
The problem is we’re permanently glued to our iPhones. And I mean glued. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that we now bring a charger with us to the bar in case our phones die while we’re out socializing. I know. The irony isn’t lost on me. People don’t go to bars to hang out with their phones.
This habit has gotten so out of control that even people we’ve just met have picked up on the problem. They patiently ask, “How’s your boat doing?” when there’s a lull in conversation because they can see, from the way we’re staring intently at our phones, that we’ve drifted off again.
I could blame Yellow Brick, the devil of an iPhone app that allows us to track the progress of our boats in the Clipper Race, but I know the truth. The first step is admitting you have a problem. My name is Tasha and I get panicky when I’m not holding my iPhone.
“Why aren’t they going south? That’s where the wind is!” Ryan exclaims, frowning at his iPhone.
I turn away so Ryan can’t see the smirk on my face. Though Ryan earned bragging rights when his boat won the Clipper Race from France to Brazil, my boat, Henri Lloyd, is now in third place and gaining quickly on the lead boats in this race to Cape Town.
But it’s not nice to gloat, so I’m trying really hard not to mention the fact that PSP Logistics is in eighth place and flailing around in a wind hole.
[Ryan: That’s a lie. Tasha hasn’t stopped bragging about Henri Lloyd’s position for a week now. She’s even created her own victory dance. If that’s not gloating, I don’t know what is.
Tasha: Dancing is not gloating. It is a creative expression of superiority.]
Though we’ve been racing our boats to Cape Town by car for the last two weeks with the aim to be on the docks when our boats pull in, emotionally, we are not on the docks. We are on our boats, celebrating our teams’ successes and wincing at the pitfalls like they are our own. I cheer at my phone when Henri Lloyd wins the Ocean Sprint, picking up two points towards our round-the-world score, and Ryan curses as he watches PSP Logistics make the grave mistake of not heading far enough south.
But all the joy and frustration I feel following Henri Lloyd on Yellow Brick makes me realize that, really, I belong on my boat out there on the ocean. Leg 1 gave me a taste of what ocean racing was like and I want more. Sure, I’ve had a blast traveling around South Africa, but I don’t really want to be a spectator anymore – I want to be back racing with my crew.
When we boarded our boats in London back in September, I was incredibly nervous and insecure about whether I’d made the right choice, getting on a 70-foot racing yacht when really this was Ryan’s passion, not mine. I kissed Ryan good-bye on St. Katharine’s Docks half wondering if the next time I saw him I’d be broken and defeated and begging to cancel my place on Leg 3, the toughest leg in the whole round-the-world race.
Now, instead of feeling nervous about surfing down gargantuan waves at boat speeds of 30+ knots in hurricane-strength winds, I’m mostly curious. I want to see for myself how these 70-foot boats handle in the Southern Ocean, and I want to be at the helm when we’re screaming down those waves. I can’t think of anything more exhilarating.
And I’m sure Ryan isn’t the only one who is surprised – I myself never thought I would say this, but it has to be said. I can’t wait to race across the Southern Ocean.
What am I, crazy?
Tasha and Ryan have just finished Leg 1 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which started September 1st, 2013 in London, UK, and they are racing in Leg 3 from Cape Town, South Africa to Albany, Australia starting November 4, 2013. Tasha is competing on CV21 (the Henri Lloyd boat) with Skipper Eric Holden and Ryan is competing on CV28 (the PSP Logistics boat) with Skipper Chris Hollis. You can read more about the crew and the boats here at www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew