Leg 1 Alicante to Cape Town
The teams took by boat between 25-27 days, freeze dried food, confined space, intense physical activity and no showers unless it rains. By plane I smashed it in 11hrs, easy!
I've been to South Africa once before and it still remains one of my favorite places in the world and I'm lucky enough to have seen a few!
Cape Town didn't disappoint, I stormed straight into climbing Table mountain, twice. Up the back and the front, not in the same day mind. Nearly got blown off the first if I'm honest and we only just made it up before they closed the cable car it was so windy! Amazing.
Seeing a Dassy was hilarious as the American lady next to us embarrassed her husband by shouting "oh my god Kevin, is it stuffed?" Jonny if you're reading this classic Dave moment.
Stellenbosch was top of my list and what a magical 3 days. Day one in a tour with some comical characters, day two with a good friend finding incredible views from Longridge and my favorite vineyard Muratie Wine Estate, taking me back to the wild west full of character and charm. The third with the girls....on bikes. Seemed like a wise idea. Two vineyards and 10 tasting and enough cheese to sink all 7 VOR teams and we pootled back to drop off the bikes. Smashed and happy full of laughter and maybe a little rosy.
My favorite taxi driver award goes to Patrick. He could not accept that my name was Jo. So told me "out of respect for you, I will call you Jo, but you need to know that each time I say your name (over 30 in our short journey) I will in my mind say Anne.. Jo....Annnnnnne"
Cape Point was a highlight, beautiful walk up to the lighthouse, a friendly ostrich or two, a very windy corner on a bike and an awesome view of the most Southern point of Africa.
Kirstenbouch is a must, I must be getting old as I found a lot of happiness in those botanical gardens.
Each night I'd go back to my room and swat up on the race, their adventures good and bad becoming an obsession. I've never been obsessed by anything before so it's quite an odd feeling but I'm loving it. The teams and On Board Reporters are doing a great job.
Then the gang arrived and we moved into our office which to be honest could have been worse ;-)
The Waterfront is a lively, bustling place full of song and dance. It felt a bit strange at first to be fair until the teams started to arrive. I love our little Volvo Ocean Race family, everyday it became harder to walk anywhere as we took over the place. Stories of time off and the race.
Arrivals spread over 3 days, pretty magical experience welcoming the friends I made in Alicante into Cape Town after spending so long at sea with no external interaction. The teams were exhausted but on great form. ADOR and Dongfeng fighting it out till the end to an awesome welcome followed closely by Brunel, Vestas then a night time call out to Alvimedica, a fight and a frustrating period in the Cape Town car park seeing SCA take Mapfre to finish leg 1.
Once again bringing our race village alive, in port races, pro ams and lots of excited volunteers.
Food lets talk food...I seem to be finding it difficult to fasten my trousers due to Cape Town, let's start with the market outside work, filled with homemade goodness. Oh and Mr Juice (yes Liz I think I may be turning to the power of juice!) Then the restaurants...endless restaurants. I'm going to mention a couple of my favs. Asoka on Kloof Street what can go wrong when eating next to the oldest Olive tree in town. Harbor house for sunshine, Sushi and Sav. The Grand and shimmies for sundowners. Camps Bay there are too many to name!
Chris the legend once again put up with me in the flat, entertaining me and the masses. With his Irish charm and love of red it will never go wrong!
Slowly but ever so quickly Leg 2 start came around beginning with a Press Conference, I'm getting better at these (I think, I hope) it's a steep learning curve on this gig. Every Time you think you've got something nailed something changes or you wake up in a different country with a different audience and culture. Varying array of technical assistance and sound systems added into the mix it's all very entertaining.
By the 19th Leg 2 start, Cape Town to Abu Dhabi after long days and one day off I was (as was everyone else) exhausted but one last excited push saw a successful send off for our teams on their 6125NM journey.
It's sad on the dock, loved ones and friends saying goodbye. I try to hold back my quivering lip, it's hard. I haven't seen my friends and family at home for nearly 3 months and won't see them for another 7. I miss you all, you know who you are and think of you daily. My comms have been dreadful but it doesn't change my love for you. Mixed with seeing 66 friends head off into the Ocean, hoping they all return safely.
I love this adventure it's a once in a life time, I'm lucky to share it with some of the most supportive, amazing, positive can do people. I am pretty lucky. Fact.
A sunset hike up Lion's Head then a sun filled sushi lunch, an impromptu (bloody awesome) ride in a helicopter then onwards....
Cape Town I love you....Now to Madagascar.