An aroma ripe for a Whitbread sailor

January 28, 1998|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite

The Whitbread offers sailors a multifaceted experience. As the fleet prepares to leave on its second-longest leg, the 6,670-nautical-mile passage from Auckland, New Zealand, to Sao Sebastiao, Brazil, the boats' crews can look forward to encountering a special flavor of the race.

The aroma.

After an expected 23 days of sailing in which waves will be breaking on deck, wet sails will have to be stowed in one place - in the same cabin where the off-watch sailors live, sleep and eat.

When Chessie Racing finished its 32-day Leg 1 in Cape Town, South Africa, Stephanie Fischer was on hand to greet her husband, co-skipper Mark Fischer. George Collins, sponsor of the Maryland entry, turned to her and said jokingly: "You've got boat watch tonight."

Stephanie replied: "Thank you very much. I just love the aroma."

After a month of 12 men sharing sleeping bags, showering infrequently, wearing the same clothing day in and day out, in a cabin piled high with wet gear, it was easy to get her drift.

"It's funny," Chessie bowman Jerry Kirby said. "After you live on a boat for a month, get home, take a shower and go back to the boat the next morning, you think, 'Oh, my God, how could anyone live like this.' But it seemed quite normal for a month."

Pub Date: 1/28/98

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