43 south 25 East / Boat speed: 25 knots, Course 100True

We found the wind, finally. It has been a slow start to Leg 2 but now we are on the “highway” heading east and chewing up miles.

We throttled back on the second night when things got rough and Ericsson and Brasil 1 broke. We know how gutted they feel.

We are now in second place with ABN 1 in sight just down to leeward of us. We are blasting along with the masthead spinnaker up doing 25 knots in 30 knots of wind. The boat is already difficult to sail and very highly loaded as we dig the bow in to a wave every minutes or so and 50 cm of water comes down the deck and the boat does a huge deceleration. Whoever designed these bow sprits did a good job…so far. I don’t know how that thing is still on there. I think we will have to downshift again tonight if the wind stays up around 30. I am thinking that winning this leg could be all about not breaking down.

Yesterday and last night was a struggle getting through the high pressure ridge. A lot of slating, tacking onto to starboard and thinking we were finally out of it only to die in another hole and get swallowed up by the high again fro another two hours. Finally around midnight we got onto starboard and the wind held and gradually built from 2 knots adding about one know per hour through this morning. We got through it though, believing and investing in the south and west and the direction from which the wind would come…and it did. We raced within sight of the two ABN boats much of the time and are right with them now. Movistar chose to stay far to the east and while they were winning on distance to the mark for the past several position reports, they will now pay and all three of us and maybe Premier too, will cross ahead of them. A long way to go to Melbourne but getting to the highway was the first strategy game for skippers and navigators to play on this leg.

We are all settled in to our watches and systems and everything is functioning well. I know this sounds trivial but without the experience of doing leg 1, we are still getting sorted. The boat and crew arte in good shape at the moment and I really want to keep it that way.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

It has been a rough 15 hours out here. Yesterday afternoon the wind came up to 30 knots from the southeast and some rather large and steep waves built up. Port tack in particular was very rough. The Pearl was launching off the waves at 11 knots and slamming down hard making some awful sounds so we even slowed her down for a while. Maybe a bit shy from our leg 1 mishap but, no matter what, you can’t win if the boat breaks.

This morning we are back to full speed in the 15 knots of wind and significantly improved sea condition.

Yesterday we and Ericsson witnessed a pretty impressive display of boat speed by ABN 1. Around 11:00 local time they were one mile dead astern of us and we were the same 1 mile astern of Ericsson, all lined up on starboard tack. As the wind built from 8 to 20-25 knots, ABN simply sailed through our lee and that of Ericsson and back up in front of both of us and put another two miles on us by sunset. The ABN design is very good in conditions where stability is required. Unfortunately, I think that will be most of the time in these boats.

Life is all good onboard the Black Pearl. All are in good health and the boat is in good condition. We had one bit of damage on the first day with the radar being torn off the mast in a tack. Juggy, the man of all trades and skills, has relaminated the bracket twice and we will try to get it back on the mast in the light conditions that we are expecting tonight.

The weather has been surprisingly moderate, fairly warm air and sea temp (22C). We had a couple of flying fish land in the cockpit and flap around for a while until they eventually slithered back into the water out the back of the cockpit. There were a few rain showers which were very welcome by the crew as we were getting more salt water in our face and hair than we needed.

Regarding the tactics of the past 48 hours, most of the fleet has been arriving at the same conclusions, which is to work to the south east and then make a straight shot to the south to get the westerlies. The exception is Movistar who seems to be going far to the east. With the two options for course being 100 or 180 true, the Movistar course of 100 is rated best by the position report as the waypoint we are racing to is to the east-southeast. But this is of little importance, what does matter is who gets to the ice way points first and more importantly, who gets to the scoring waypoint at 70E longitude first. Most of us believe in the strategy of getting south to the highway of westerly winds and making big miles in a hurry to the east once we get there. We are going to pay the price now be transitioning the high pressure ridge which will have light winds. It is on the other side of this ridge that the westerlies lie.

Brasil1 has done a very nice job of playing the shifts in the past 24 hours and I think they are in the best position. We have been in a pack with Ericsson and ABN and we all tacked to port yesterday afternoon at the same time. ABN just stretched on us because of their speed and we stayed close with Ericsson until we throttled back a bit. Still, in the big picture, we are relatively in the same neighborhood.

So it will be interesting to see what happens tonight as the fleet transitions the ridge. This is a place were one boat can get a bit lucky.

One knot more wind when there is just 3 knots of wind is a lot. The wind will be very patchy and volatile for about 6 hours. The first boat out of the ridge and into the westerlies should stretch nicely on the fleet.

I am going to try to get some of the other guys to write some daily reports so you can get to know their personalities.

That is all for now.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean

Just got the position report. Looks like Ericsson either had to throttle back as well or had some other problem. ABN just keeps pouring it on and is now 11 miles straight in front of us. Movistar tacked and is quite a ways to the north. Jules and I think the race is to the south and finding the best way through the ridge. So we will be scouring the sat pictures and Quick scat. I will explain quick scat at another time. I need a nap.

That was a crazy start. I haven’t been on a boat without steerage for years. And it happened not just once but a few times in the first 2 hours of the race. Boat were backing down, gybing upwind, it was chaotic.

The start itself wasn’t bad. We had about 5 knots of wind and the fleet got off the line all pretty even. Movistar had a nice jump at the committee boat end. That was just the beginning of the show though. After that, the wind basically died and came from a variety of directions, all at less than 2 knots. We finally got to the first mark of the course…2.5 miles from the start…1 hr and 45 minutes after starting. Then when we approached the mark, the wind dies and the current pushed us back away from it. ABN 2 got around it that first time and looked to be gone. We eventually gybed around…tacking was not possible…and went for another shot at it. At one point on our second approach, we had gotten our boat speed up to a knot. But sure enough, just as we were getting close to the mark, the wind died again. We were alongside the mark so the current pushed us into it. The mark was also about 100 meter from a very large container ship. So with no steerage and no wind and some current, this whole situation was tricky and frustrating. We eventually got clear of the mark and did our penalty turn and got out of there. The whole fleet sailed into a south westerly breeze so thereafter.

Movistar did a nice job through it all and is leading. Brasil who had a lot of troubles with the mark and did a penalty turn as well was last for a while. They played the shore nicely and seem to have good speed to move into second place. We have been in third for a long time but just recently Ericsson has pulled up even with us. We are all on port tack now leaving the South African coast on a southerly course.

We are expecting to be on port of four or five hours while a small trough goes through, then to tack onto starboard for most of the day tomorrow. Tomorrow evening we will tack back onto port and cross the high pressure ridge to find the “highway” of strong westerly winds in a few days time to take us to the east at a fast rate of speed.

The conditions are very pleasant, 15 knots and smooth seas. We broke our radar off the mast during one of the tacks so we will have to fix the bracket tomorrow.

We had a tasty chicken curry tonight made by our food suppliers Real Expedition. The lottery for the favorite meal is now underway.

That is it for now. All is good on the Pirate ship.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean