It’s not over, until it’s over.

It’s been quite a week! In the space of 7 days I have seen off the fleet at race start from Southend Pier in Essex, quietly seen in another year of mine and my husband’s life on this earth, hosted a big international, 4-day conference with my academic colleagues at Bath University – Death, Dying and Disposal – only to finally return home to Bristol, conk-out on the sofa in exhaustion, then wake up on Monday to the incredible news that my team had managed to climb up the leader board over the course of a day and come into Portimao marina FIRST! Yes, that’s right, Punta del Este have done it; they’d won the 1st race of Leg 1 in an 11 month endurance race around the globe. I am indescribably proud of them as I know they must have pushed so hard to make the absolutely gripping come back that they did. As one of the crew reported: ” What a finish! The rapidly changing weather between the systems made the final approach more than interesting. The wind was increasing from the east and Punta managed to play the wind like no other boat propelling themselves to third place on the rhumb line (straight line to destination). Meanwhile, Qingdao went out to cover Unicef to find both boats “parked” in a wind hole. This was Punta’s chance to take first position!” …And so they did!

I hope that right now as I type this, they are getting much needed sleep, but also basking in their glory. It’s a magical start to what we all hope, will be the best thing we’ve done with our lives to date. But the firsts don’t stop there! Punta del Este also won the ocean sprint section with the fastest time, which gives the team an additional 3 points. Our Skipper, Jeronimo, reports that it was winning the ocean sprint that gave him and my crew mates on leg 1 the focus and motivation to push hard and use all the fuel in their tanks to bag 1st place into Portimao Marina, Portugal.

A team member captured this gripping moment on the Race Viewer

Unfortunately all the live footage of the fleets arrival at the end of race 1 is restricted to Facebook use only, so I can’t upload the fantastic Clipper Race Live footage here. This Clipper write up will have to suffice; PUNTA DEL ESTE WINS RACE TO PORTIMÃO

Below are the overall race standings at the end of Race 1 / Leg 1. None of the teams have played their Joker yet, but I do wonder if Punta del Este might do so in Race 2 with their confidence high from winning race 1 and the fact that the end of race 2/Leg 1 is the yacht’s sponsor…watch this space!


Yesterday morning Louise Ware, Jeronimo’s wife, touchingly wrote on the Facebook homepage of Crew, Family and Friends of Team Punta del Este: “I’m Jeronimo’s wife. It’s my dad’s 74th birthday today. In many ways, it is a miracle he is still here. When I woke him up I gave him a cup of tea in bed and his birthday card, with the news that Punta Del Este had won the first leg of the Round The World Race. “Yeeeeeeeeeeesssssss! Go on my son!” he cried, “best birthday present ever.”

I am a person who notices signs and coincidences everywhere in my life, so I rather like the fact that I share my birthday within a few days with Jeronimo’s father-in-law. Indeed, we noted during yacht delivery to St. Katherine’s Dock that there are a significant number of fellow Virgos among Punta del Este crew; I take that as an auspicious sign, irrespective of rational answers!

Continuing the theme of signs and coincidences, I was excited and surprised that a childhood friend I grew up with in the small High Peak village of Edale (the official start or finish of the Pennine Way to those of you who enjoy long-distance hiking through driving rain and bog) happened to be on holiday with her partner in Lagos and messaged me to say: “I’m obsessed with your race today. We’re in Lagos in Portugal on holidays and all day I’ve been watching the boats with no wind! Punta del Este making an amazing comeback from 7th to 3rd…. this racing thing is exciting! Hope your keeping well and not too jealous of those afloat… xxx”

So I promptly messaged her back to let her know she’d be welcome to take a trip over to Portimao marina to step aboard and give my congratulations to the team. I was chuffed to bits that she promptly did that and took some pictures and I think it’s really quite amazing that a childhood friend just so happened to witness Punta del Este’s victory at the end of Race 1. Smiles all round.

It was confirmed by my friend that yes, that is indeed a red carpet on the pontoon! Here Punta del Este is moored on the same pontoon as Visit Sanya. Punta del Este finished the race at 00:45:22 UTC, whilst Visit Sanya finished the race in 5th position at 03:17:22 UTC on Monday 9th September.

All in all, it’s been an incredible week in the wider sailing world too, because the day before Punta del Este sailed into Portimao to win race 1, a woman I am greatly inspired by (hence why I have her blog linked to my blog’s home-page) completed her solo, non-stop, unassisted circumnavigation aged 77! Joanne Socrates is an inspiration to us all and gives me hope to keep my dream alive that one day I will circumnavigate the world’s oceans. She was alone at sea for 330 days and used her incredible voyage to raise money for the RNLI. I am in awe of her courage, resilience and skill. Congratulations to Joanne Socrates and my team, Punta del Este!