A different Christmas
Maybe it will be with the family at home, the table laden with food, all enjoying the usual laughter and gifts. Some will spend Christmas at home and try to relax and make it as ‘normal’ as possible, others will spend it in Barcelona close to the boat and the programme but having family and friends travelling to see them. Others may even only take a few hours off. For sure Christmas is upon the 16 skipper of the Barcelona World Race, but the way they enjoy it or deal with it will be different from team to team, and skipper to skipper. But for everyone the thoughts of the 31st December start, and what lies ahead for the coming three months, are impossible to suppress. Even on Christmas Day.
Next week -December 31st, Wednesday, at 13am- will start the two-handed non-stop around the world race. Ahead of them, 90 days of sailing and 23,000 miles (42,600 kilometres) across three oceans, through the Capes of Good Hope (South Africa), Leeuwin (Australia) and Horn (Chile).
"It will be a different Christmas because in a few days we will go off to race around the world. It is true that my head is not really in Christmas mode as it might be in a normal year", says Pepe Ribes, the Spanish co-skipper of Hugo Boss. Teams celebrate the holidays with a bittersweet feeling. They represent the final days head off. "I’ll stay away from the boat but not the activity," says Ribes.
The Spanish skippers of the race are lucky to have their family close by. However it is more complicated for the skippers from further afield. Two French, one British, one German, a Swiss, a Hungarian, a New Zealander and a Chilean. Most of them will celebrate Christmas in Barcelona, some missing family and friends. It will hardly feel normal.
Conrad Colman, who is from New Zealand and has a US passport but lives in France, has no time to go home. "Ours is a last minute project and every second counts," says the young co-skipper who has only been one month with Nandor Fa’s Spirit of Hungary. "I want to be productive all the time at Christmas so I have to work a bit," says the Kiwi still smiling. He explains that his French fiancée will come to Barcelona tomorrow, December 25th. "Dinner with her family in Paris and then she will take a flight. I'll have to wait a bit for my Christmas present". Used to the heat of his homeland, New Zealand, at Christmas, Conrad will "celebrate the holidays with a walk on the beach."
The Chilean José Muñoz, sailing with Guillermo Altadill on Neutrogena, said: “Christmas is good anywhere as long as you are with the family. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the stuff you usually have at home.”
His wife and children are with him here in Barcelona. "I be with wife and kids and will try and do some shopping and enjoy it," says the Chilean laughing. "But still I'll have to work. Work and, when possible, enjoy," Muñoz said.
For its part, the Catalan skipper Aleix Gelabert, One Planet, Once Ocean & Pharmaton, says he intends to "celebrate Christmas as normal". After many months of preparation, Gelabert considers: “It’s nice to get some time off before the start, even so that the whole team can rest.”
Skippers are usually going to be back full on Saturday December 27, just five days before the start.
By the way, merry Christmas!