For the last few days, two Ultimate trimarans have been vying to sail around the world in under 45 days – the current record set a couple of years ago by Loick Peyron and crew. Spindrift 2 and Idec Sport are in the deep wild reaches of the Southern Ocean. Here, the air and sea are Antarctic cold. Giant ice blocks calved off distant glaciers float ghastly blue green whipped by wild wind and spray. To hit one of these berg bits at full speed is certain catastrophe. Tough to see and dodge during the day, they are almost invisible at night. The boats groan and strain, the wind moans and iron men press carbon boats across the daunting, howling wild sea.
In the normal, everyday, rational world most of us inhabit such activity…such adventure…makes no sense – the risk cannot be justified by the abstract reward of breaking a meaningless record. Day after day, watch after watch cold, grinding labor is accomplished under the constant threat of sudden disaster. To land dwellers, it’s insane.
They dont understand, they will never understand.
To seafarers – to the ocean tribe – it is magnificent, fantastic, jaw-dropping, ridiculous, spectacular – ultimate – adventure. We can imagine ourselves at the helm, guiding the big bird down the track. We can’t feel the icy cold, the sore muscles, the bruised bones, the exhaustion. We can only feel – remotely feel – how exhilirating and euphoric it must be to jet across the ocean.
But more than that, more than exhilaration and ephoria – these boats, and this adventure make us pause and appreciate the audacity of man to pit his intelligence, his creativity, his spirit against the ultimate wilderness. Not for survival, not for riches, not for domination….for nothing more than bragging rights. To design, build and propel incredible wind borne oceanic space ships across the most remote, hostile environment on earth at break neck speeds under imminent threat of disaster – just for the hell of it.
We will watch this drama unfold with awe and respect. We will cringe as they head into the deep South with the ice bergs and rejoice as they fly back North. We will experience the sacred ocean as they experience it, communicated by invisible electronic waves mastered and harnessed by human intellect driven by insatiable curiosity.
In a world sometimes made hellish by human action, the attempts to win the Jules Verne trophy are the antidote. They remind us that the only thing greater than the power and majesty of the ocean is the mind that can conceive it.
Fair winds Spindrift and Idec…..Cheers and thanks!