I’m currently sitting at the hotel pool, right next to the famous Panama Canal. I see the ships passing by, using the canal to shortcut their way between Atlantic and Pacific. We will be doing the same on June 2nd. We arrived to Panama on the 27th and as we were originally planned to cross the canal on the 29th, our team was not involved in any onshore activities such as open boat, sponsoring events or others. Hence, this is the perfect opportunity to recharge, after another tough race.

Sailing in no wind

Different to the pacific, the last leg was rather a mental challenge. Starting in nice strong winds we approached the Doldrums and had quickly to deal with weak to no wind. Obviously the Doldrums were further north than expected and the race was ended on the second of 5 possible finish lines (Read my last blog for more info). Good for us, after the first line we were in 4th position, but the second line we crossed as first boat. Whoop, whoop, winners! 🙂

Wind lottery after a strong race

Over most time of the race we were in the leading pack with Team Qingdao and Team Visit Seattle. We performed well, but towards the finish the race became a lottery. The leading pack was stuck in no winds while the fleet caught up. At one point most of the fleet were within a few miles. Interestingly the wind patterns were so fluky, that one boat could sail 8 knots speed while another, just 1 mile away, had zero wind. However, we knew it was a lottery and a few miles before the second finish line we were midfield. The boats ahead of us were sailing towards coastal waters.

As per wind forecast the winds were inshore, further offshore there was no wind. Because the fleet was close together, we could monitor our competitors closely on our systems. Suddenly, they run out of wind (against to what the forecast said) and we decided to go “all-in”. We gybed, now heading offshore again and hoping, that our forecast was wrong, too. And luckily we had wind! Just enough to sail pass the whole fleet and cross the finish line, before the wind was dying completely. After a few hours continuing the race was called to be over and we finally realised Dare to Lead’s first victory.

Endurance motoring

With the early end of the race, we had to face a 1’000 nautical miles motoring to Panama. The whole fleet was terribly short on fuel and we motored in pairs, towing each other in turns. This helped to save some precious diesel. Still we were too short to make it to the original refuel marina in Costa Rica, so we were deviated to a closer one, still in Costa Rica. Because this was not an official entry port we were stuck on our boats for 10 hours until we got cleared by immigration. Luckily the crew of the Super Yacht Pacific supplied us with cold drinks.

Finally, after clearance we had nice 24 hours in Costa Rica, eating, drinking and swimming in a hotel pool. This sounds all quite relaxed, but motoring for more than a week, not knowing whether we have enough fuel, is quite a challenge. Also we just wanted to go arrive and celebrate our victory, but we just had to wait, and wait, and wait. However, the celebrations once in Panama City were carnage – no further comments.

Beautiful Panama

Oh, and Panama City is absolutely beautiful! 🙂