The Volvo Ocean Race, the longest toughest sailing race in the world, 9 months, 11 different counties, 11 different ports, 5 continents and 4 oceans some of the best sailors, the best shore crew, events teams you name it they've done it all.....oh and me.
That's right, I'm going with them, not on water you understand but on land and in the air of course. 10 months in total following the race around the globe, interviewing the sailors their families, hosting press conferences, entertaining the hundreds of thousands of fans and public alike live in each race village.
When I was first contacted I knew I wanted it. I had no clue how I would persuade the organisers that a non sailing presenter with zero sailing knowledge was the girl for the job but I was going to give it my best shot. Who'd have thought that this edition is focused on 'The Human Edition' with a One Design boat The Volvo Ocean 65 taking the differing boats out of the equation making it all about the sailors, their talent, their stories. Bingo....right down my street.
So it began....in Alicante, head office filled with an International melting pot of wonderfully talented, Totally lovely and tremendous fun individuals who I'm proud after only 2 months to call my friends.
You see it's been intense. I wanted to write this blog sooner but my brain just couldn't process the information effectively. I've never worked in an office before, I've never taken on an international job with a 10 month commitment where I would essentially need to learn about an entire sport all 66 sailors, their histories, likes, dislikes, families, what makes them tick, the hundreds of people that work in all the relevant departments for VOR whilst befriending them in the only way I know how, by trust and banter!
It's so hard to remain impartial we are not raised to be that way, choose your team and shout loud and proud, but you can't do that in my job, you can drink with them all, make friends, enjoy the journey but there be no favourites. Each team is filled with a different vibe, different people all with one goal to win. I admire that and them. I'm learning a lot already.
Everyday was filled with firsts, learnings and sunshine. I worked hard but in comparison not at all, hey it's never pretty to compare. With the odd stolen late afternoon to the beach, many late night glasses of vino tinto, huge laughs a gossip mill that would shame any school yard and some pretty stressful moments where I feel I really did learn the most, we conquered Alicante.
The Race Village was success, thousands of people attended and enjoyed, the inport and proam races were fantastic. I worked with a Spanish local language and General legend Liar whose patience, knowledge and acceptance of a challenge was a joy to work with. She taught me sailing I taught her fly by your pants improvisation and it worked. I was proud of the team and the event. Then puff......they were gone...6448 nautical miles to Cape Town. The village closed, the people gone a quick pack up and off I went to Cape Town.
My favourite greeting that I'm taking with me from Alicante "Hola Guapa or Guapo" (sex dependent) and "bamouse" let's go.
Of course it wasn't all work and no play...Via Espania. My favourite evenings involved of course eating and with such a wide choose my love of food was tickled everyday. My favourite being El Foc I'm scared about sharing this little gem but I know you'll treat it with the love and respect a little cave filled with some if the best tapas in Spain deserves...right! Tribecca for meeting everyone and seeing the teams at their most relaxed and entertaining. Japanise for sushi the beach bar for sun downers although just never be in a rush. Yoga on the beach and the icing on the cake....a day and a night off in the hills staying here
Chris the legend who took the bait and signed up to travel round the world with me, my good old matey from Ireland who makes the sun shine daily and gives that incredible dry wit an airing in all the right situations. Lou lovely lovely Lou and Benn who I believe will single handily save the world all huddled together created a plan and kidnapped Cavs up to the hills and far away from the craziness.
See, Chappers (good old wonderful Chaps came to visit with Ze German in Alicante, what a supportive friend and amazing to catch up) they hooked me up with the Safari tent details and I could not have been happier.
Tranquil, remote, beautiful, serene and just what we all needed. A stroll round Altea lunch at the most beautiful beach bar hidden from society we could have been on a 5 star private beach although avoid the prawns unless you have won the lottery! Heaven
And then to Cape Town.....