The hare and the racing tortoise
“Why are you going the long way?” Jackie asked, after we’d explained that our route to the Marquesas Islands would be up the coast of Chile to the Peru bump and then a long curve across the Pacific to French Polynesia. “Why don’t you go there direct, via Easter Island?”
“Because we want an easy ride, favourable currents and trade-winds all the way, and because our friends who went to Easter Island last year reported cross-seas, calms and gales and too much swell in the anchorages,” we replied.
We first met Jackie, Juliette and their aluminium yacht Cachoeira when we arrived in Puerto Williams two years ago, we were rafted up alongside them for most of our time there and became good friends.
Jackie frowned. Last time we had discussed routes and timings had been in Puerto Williams, initially they had planned to sail up the Canales at the same time as us but in the end delayed until the following spring. We’d enjoyed light winds and sunshine, though it was cold and the days were short, initially. They’d had a terrible journey with strong headwinds and pouring rain and it had felt just as cold with the wind chill factor.
“But the high pressure over Easter Island isn’t as set this time of year, besides we want to visit Easter Island!” He remembered.
“We’ll race you,” I said jokingly. Downwind, there is no doubt that Cachoeira is the faster yacht.
We signed out of Chile together and set sail from Valdivia the same day, Cachoeira had an hour and a half head start. Jackie and Juliette planned to stop off at Robinson Crusoe Island in the Juan Fernandez group and at Easter Island, if the swell allowed, on their way to the Gambier Islands, the most south-easterly group in French Polynesia. We hoped to meet again later this year.
A week later we received the following message from Cachoeira: “Robinson Crusoe Island to windward, not stopping.”
Another week or so went by and a further message arrived: “Weather and swell forecast not good for the following week, not stopping at Easter Island.”
At this rate, they were set to do a ‘Moitissier’ and head straight to Tahiti!
The race was on! The boat to arrive in French Polynesia first. We were at a slight disadvantage because the Marquesas are 660 miles further than the Gambiers from Valdivia but Caramor was game, clocking up the miles like never before.
May the best team win!
Aries snaps a quick shot as he steers us down a wave
* Moitissier is à French sailor with cult status in France. He was winning the first solo around the world race, as he got back into the Atlantic, instead of turning north back to Europe, he carried on around Cape Horn and didn’t stop until he got to Tahiti.