Drifting down the Channel

Position: 50,7.13N , 3,55.31W

Speed: 6 knots, Course: 279 deg.

Slow going so far.

We are about 20 hours into this race and we have gone 120 miles… about the same as one good 6 hour sked in these boats.

It was a reaching start yesterday and ABN Amro Two got the best position and lead for the first 30 minutes. Then the wind died as we transitioned from the sea breeze of the eastern Solent to that of the western Solent. We managed to grab the lead through that transition only to be passed by Brasil1 after 15 minutes of pleasure. We slowly slid back in the fleet and finally came to realize that we had something on the foils.

Saga number one; we have somehow forgotten our endoscope, the device that allows you so see the foils from inside the boat. So the only way we can be completely sure if we are clean on this leg is to back down. So back down number one in the Solent. Still not going well and Ericsson and ABN Amro Two passing us by Hearst Castle at the western end of the Solent. On back down number two, we also sent Anthony into the water to make sure we were clean.

Luckily he went in as we had some garbage stuck in our propeller door which would not have come off with a back down.

After the second back down we seemed to be going ok. Through the night, the wind died and came from the north. We came close to needing to anchor but just managed to keep forward progress in the 3 knot winds. The fleet reshuffled a couple of times through it all, Brasil1 had a lead of 3 miles at one point, then ended up behind us. Ericsson took off on the fleet early this morning by getting closer to land. They are now about 8 miles ahead of the rest of us who are all within 2 miles.

The ABN boats have very good light air sails (Code 0 and masthead tight-reaching spinnaker), as light air is their weakness. Right now they are hanging with us in a condition that they should not, because of their sails. Our light air sails are not particularly good, as we have slanted our designs and sizing for more wind. We saw this a bit on Leg 5, from Rio, too.

The forecast is for very light wind over the next 40 hours as we battle our way through a stationary high pressure cell that is in the Irish Sea.

Contrary to what you may think, the light air is difficult sailing. We are constantly stacking the boat one way or the other in order to induce heel. It seems slow to cant the keel to leeward so we try to get the heel we need with stacking the gear to leeward. Also, light air is difficult helming conditions requiring a lot of concentration. The good news is that we are not slamming the boat around and having her make scary noises.

Looks like it is going to be a long one. Maybe in two days we will start making some decent speed up the west coast of Ireland.

Drifting down the Channel,

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean