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Portimão Global Ocean Race
Breaking the mast is not the end of the world
Algarve123: First of all, congratulations to both of you. Currently you are sailing somewhere north of the Azores, in the vicinity of the island of Flores. If the winds are favourable you should be arriving in Portimão shortly. Did it ever occur to you at the very outset that you might stand a chance to win the race?
Felix Oehme: We certainly did not plan it that way! We did not even know any of the other participants in advance. The Chileans were presented to us as the absolute front-runners and favourites. But after the first leg, in Cape Town, we realized that we belonged right up there with them!
Algarve123: Let’s say, theoretically speaking, that one of your competitors would break their mast and you were sailing close by. Would you turn around in order to save them, or would you keep on sailing full steam ahead?
Felix Oehme: We had just such a scenario occur in the Indian Ocean. There, the Dutch participants from the yacht Hayai tore up their keel bolts. The lead was dangling off of one single bolt only and the boat threatened to capsize. So, the Belgian yacht Roaring Forty changed course in order to come to their help. A broken mast is by no means the end of the world. But it goes without saying: whoever is in dire need of help and asks us for it will definitely get it.
Algarve123: Thinking back to the eight months spent at sea, what would be the one experience you will never ever forget, and which you will later on recount to your children?
Boris Herrmann: The moment when, after weeks and weeks of sailing in the Pacific Ocean, the first sighting of land came into view again - and then sailing around Cape Horn the following day. But also, the story about how we were sailing along all alone in the Pacific and then, due to weak winds, had the opportunity to have all the other participants within calling distance over thousands of miles. All the competitors were chatting with each other at that time. That was truly a rather special phenomenon.
Algarve123: Let us talk a bit about nature and the sea. Was the water you were sailing through clean or was it strewn with rubbish?
Felix Oehme: The South Pacific was extremely clean. However, the closer we got to Brazil, the more bottles and flotsam appeared in the South Atlantic.
Algarve123: By now you are already en-route in the North Atlantic for ten days. Can you tell me whether the climate change has had an effect on the sailing conditions in the Gulf Stream?
Felix Oehme: We are familiar with the fog and the extreme cold weather in the Gulf of Labrador from our previous sailing regattas. In the Gulf Stream, we are observing the warm weather diligently, the warm water and the formation of small rain clouds. It is fascinating. But we are lacking the appropriate basis for comparisons in order to discuss changes in its climate.
Algarve123: Should disagreements arise on board how do you solve the conflict in such a small, confined space?
Felix Oehme: Let’s take for example the choice of sails. Should we disagree on that, we simply postpone the decision for a little while. Then we consult with each other again, and after about half an hour or so we come to a mutual agreement…
…this requires great discipline, but also great camaraderie…
…no doubt, that goes without saying, when you have to get up in the middle of the night to sit at the helm/ tiller then that truly is the only way to be and get along…
Algarve123: How do you cook? What are you eating? Is there anything you really miss?
Felix Oehme: We have a hob on board, a gas cooker with a flame. Usually we cook pasta, but also rice and once per day muesli. Most important is a piece of fruit every day. Ah yes, a cool beer waiting for us upon our arrival is certainly something to look forward to!
Algarve123: Sailing along out there has to happen in harmony and silence in perfect synchronization with Mother Nature. Do you have any idea already how you are planning to live this ideal on land later on? Here everything is loud, noisy, fast-paced and hectic…
Felix Oehme: Walking, but also surfing. Maybe you can only truly achieve this kind of harmony on, in and with the water. By the way, how is the weather there at your end in Portimaõ?
Algarve123: Subtropical, humid, sweaty, almost no wind at all, thunderstorm weather.
Felix Oehme: Hopefully that will change - we don’t want to be kept lying outside Sagres for five days before arriving at Portimão harbour…
Algarve123: Thank you very much for your time today, and ‘break the mast and sheet ropes’ to both of you! We’ll see you when you come sailing into the harbour, and put that beer on ice for you!!!