|photo via www.volvooceanrace.org|
I've been avidly following the Volvo Ocean Race (www.volvooceanrace.org) for the last few months. It’s an irresistible mix of cutting edge technology, mother nature at her most AWEsome, human spirit, grit, endurance, and all that stuff. The most recent leg for the six teams on these 70 foot, spartan, blisteringly fast sailing machines is from New Zealand through the Southern Ocean, round Cape Horn at the tip of South America and up the coast to Brazil. The photos and video and position updates sent every 3 hours are unprecedented in the picture they paint.
Why this on a Diabetes blog? There are plenty of ways to connect it. I, for one, have no desire to actually do this kind of sailing, but the days of bone jarring pounding these guys are enduring right now in 40 knots of wind and 9 meter seas would make it impossible to test blood sugar or inject insulin. But what first occurred to me reading recent updates was an analogy between how the helmsman steers the boat in the massive waves and the daily swings in blood sugar or even stress that we all navigate.
At the top of each of these huge waves, the helmsman has to choose very carefully how he steers down the face on the backside. The boat is going more than 20 knots. If he steers too sideways to the next one, it’ll crash over him and roll the boat. If he steers too straight he’ll drop off the wave or bury the bow down in the trough, slamming the boat to a screeching halt. This is hard enough to do in the daytime when you can see the direction, height, and specific gnarly nature of each of these hurtling watery masses of energy. But at night, it’s just the sound of a breaking wave crest, over the screaming wind, that hints at the next wave’s character. I want to be like the guys who successfully drive at night with finesse, feel, and intuition, avoiding the 2-story drops off the top of waves that crack the carbon fiber supports and rag-doll toss all the guys not-sleeping below.