SIX 6 PACK - SAND ISLAND YACHT CLUB
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The adventures of John Storm and the Elizabeth Swann. John Storm is an ocean adventurer and conservationist. The Elizabeth Swann is a fast solar powered boat. During a race around the world, news of the sinking of a pirate whaling ship reaches John Storm and his mate Dan Hook. They decide to abandon the race and try and save the whale.
(Original Book Chapter 15) – Six Pack - 200 N, 1600 W
The start reminded Steve of the Oxford and Cambridge university boat races along the River Thames in London. An imaginary line had been drawn on the ocean between two Marshall boats that were anchored. Each contender had to be behind this line ………. It took several attempts to line the boats up, even with only a mild sea.
In between and as close as they could get from almost every vantage point, the media were snapping pictures and shooting video, for their news channels.
Six contenders were doing their best to keep their vessels in line for a fair start, not that a few meters would make a lot of difference in a race that was likely to last one hundred and fifty days or more, over more than 40,000 kilometers. Perhaps quite a lot less time for the winner, and many more nautical miles for the last to cross the finish line.
Irresistibly, the press had labeled the six challengers the 'Six Pack,' after the plastic rings that beer cans used to be packaged in for supermarkets.
The competitors were the Elizabeth Swan, Khufu Kraft, Photon Planet, Seashine, Starlight and Sunriser.
The Elizabeth Swan was the hottest contender and the odds on favorite to win because of her clocked speeds during trials.
Starlight was held to be the next fastest boat with Photon Planet third, followed by Seashine, Sunriser and last but not least the Khufu Kraft. Each design was quite different from the other, some large and some small.
Starlight was captained by Sarah Jones, coincidentally, a former partner of John Storm from many years ago when students. They had been partners for years enjoying sailing and diving together, but disagreed on politics and career paths and soon became friendly rivals as the wounds healed over the years to allow them to compare notes even, and still go home separately.
The Photon Planet was a smaller, faster development, from a team who'd advised on the PlanetSolar concept. The Turanor PlanetSolar was the world's first solar powered boat to circumnavigate the globe in 2012. This entry was from a Swiss consortium, enthusiasts who were keen to keep some of the younger family members of the original team in the frame.
Sunriser was an Australian entry developed from the Solar Sailor concept, except that it featured vertical wind turbines. The Solar Sailor was designed by Robert Dane before 2000. The Solar Sailor was a harbor ferry, the Sunriser was an ocean going vessel.
The Khufu Kraft was an entry from Egypt and other Middle Eastern backers, with the son of a Sheik at the helm; Abdullah Amir, noted for his conservation efforts. This boat harked back to the days of the Pharaohs, styled on the lines of those ancient craft, brought into the modern world as a large yacht.
Staying on station with a tide pushing them back and forward required a little jostling on the part of the captains using forward and aft thrust, but finally all of the entrants were in a line of sorts and a flare was fired to signify the start of the race followed by a very loud horn that echoed across the harbor deafeningly.
Great swirls of water jetted backwards from the propellers of all six racers to an uproar of appreciation from the gathered crowd who whistled and clapped, some throwing hats and anything else handy into the air. Others jumped up and down and hugged the person standing next to them, some even kissing in the excitement, then realizing too late they didn't know the person who they had just kissed.
The cheering died down as the Elizabeth Swan made it out into open water way ahead of Starlight, who was some way ahead of Photon Planet, with the other three stragglers bringing up the rear. Despite her magnificence, the yacht Khufu Kraft, was the slowest vessel, but still gave a good account of herself, in the absence of diesel fumes.
A media scrum on water developed as the press boats rushed after the Six Pack. They could not keep up with the Swann and Starlight. A helicopter was covering the story for Sky News and their editor Tom Hudson, capturing some stunning aerial views of the boats leaving the harbour, including circling the race leaders.
As the gap widened and the boats grew smaller on the horizon, silence descended on the crowd at the start line, just like the start of the Volvo Ocean Races. Then, after a respectable time and to fill the void, the event organizers opened up on loud speakers:
"Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to thank you all for coming to make this event what it is. As you saw for yourselves these boats can really move - the future of zero emission ocean transport perhaps. I'm here with .......... "
nearly six and a half thousand kilometers away north-west, as the crow
flies, another kind of contest was playing out as pirate whalers began
their hunt for what they thought would be easy prey.
Six and a half thousand kilometers away, pirates are about to begin their chase of two whales in the Philippine Sea.
The graphic novel translation omits many of the above chapters (in grey) entirely, and condenses others, aiming for a lively visual read.
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