Dawn broke as we approached New York on 14 June and I felt more profoundly than previously the excitement of sailing towards port. Once the race was over and still some distance offshore, our watch had a quiet and relaxed sail towards our destination with the glow of lights growing closer, before engine on and a golden sunrise spread its magic over the skyscrapers.
From a sailing perspective, our race result was disappointing and as ever did not tell the whole story of some exciting and varied sailing, a dramatic electrical storm, wind holes and some tough tactical decisions through the Caribbean and when in search of the Gulf Stream. For me the race was about so much more than the end result and this will be a story than unfolds when the whole race is finished at the of July and as I continue my study into the impact of our extraordinary challenges.
Once ashore a visit to the 9/11 memorial pools and museum and other walks provided new insights and reflection. An extract from the 9/11 mission statement read: ‘May the lives remembered, the deeds recognised and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance’.
Several crew who are participating in the study have already noticed that their understanding and tolerance for others has increased during their Clipper race, so this quote resonated on a number of levels. As in any team and certainly onboard, strong differences of opinion and conflict arose and whilst hatred of others may have been the occasional extreme underlying emotion I think this was rare. Hatred is so often borne of ignorance which leads to intolerance.
Our own education and trajectories of learning, growth and development are exposed whilst racing and for sure, I dropped into and happily shed a little light on some of my own dark shadows and thus opportunities for development.
Whilst walking The High Line, a delightfully transformed old railway line, I was inspired by their welcome statement. They expressed concern for ‘divisive, hateful speech and actions’. Going on to affirm their commitment to ‘open spaces that reflect and celebrate the diversity of our communities’. This resonates again because all Clipper teams are very diverse and for me this increased both the challenge and the enjoyment of the race – in particular, getting to know and becoming friends with some of our Chinese ambassadors has been a great joy.
These messages of shifting from hatred and intolerance to celebrating diversity are, for me, glimmers of hope for a country, and perhaps for many others in our world who are in transition and seeking change.
Finally a call to action: please add a comment on this blog with your experiences of challenges that have provoked change in you or your team.