Skipper David Witt and his team of Scallywags experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
A late entrant, led by the outspoken Witt, SHK/Scallywag was dubbed an underdog by the pundits, but proved with some bold navigation choices that it could be a force on the leaderboard.
A leg win into their home port of Hong Kong and a strong second-place finish on the following leg meant the team was in a podium position at the halfway point in Auckland.
But those achievements were rendered insignificant by the loss of veteran crew member John Fisher in the Southern Ocean, 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn, on Leg 7.
Following an outpouring of support from the Volvo Ocean Race family and the sailing community at large, the team would elect to sail on, with a focus on finishing the race in honour of Fish, who held sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race as a lifelong dream.
On the leaderboard, SHK/Scallywag would eventually settle for a seventh place finish, on equal points with Turn the Tide on Plastic. But that wouldn’t tell the full story of their race.
“It’s an ethos the Scallywags try and live by,” explained Witt at the time. “We never give up, we look after each other and we do it together.
“The support we’ve had from within the Volvo family has been amazing. It takes special people to do this race and I think that character has been exemplified by the way we’ve been supported by the other competitors…”
“I think the race has 100% changed me,” Witt would later say, reflecting as the event came to a close. “I’m probably more tolerant and more patient now… When you go through the loss of someone like Fish, your priorities change and the way I prioritise things has probably changed a hell of a lot. You realise you can’t control everything.”
Witt also expressed immense pride in the development of his young crew, who he’s seen mature and grow over the course of the race.
“The people on this boat, they never give up,” he said. “In fact, they actually work harder when things get hard. I think that’s one of the things we’re most proud of as a team…”
The race in numbers for SHK/Scallywag:
1 --- Best Leg finish: First place - Leg 4
4 --- Best In-Port Race finish: Fourth place - Guangzhou, Newport
10 --- Number of rookies in the race (the most of any team)
16 --- Total number of crew to sail with the team
20 --- Years between races for skipper David Witt who sailed in the 1997-98 event
21 --- Age of the youngest crew in the race: Ben Piggot, 21 years old