Long Hard Day Pushing

Position: 41,22.44S , 75,3.69E

Speed: 25 knots, Course: 105 deg.

Sorry for not writing a report yesterday. It was a long hard day pushing to get every ounce of speed out of the boat heading for the scorings gate. I started to write my report last night and then there was a very loud bang. I jumped up out of the nav station fearing the worst – the keel. But word came back from on deck that it was the boom vang. It’s attachment at the mast had ripped off. The boom vang is used to apply down pressure on the boom when reaching. So we have jury rigged up something which is ok but not 100%. The guys are working on a plan to make a better solution when the wind drops a bit.

We have been flat out flying since the black hole ate us up a few nights ago and ABNAMRO TWO sailed right around us, literally in sight of us, while we slatted with no wind. Up until that point, the race was going well and we were enjoying it. Then all of a sudden all our hard work over the previous 4 days, and the associated gains, were thrown out the window. A little frustrating to say the least. Then the wind filled from behind which almost let Movistar pass us at the scoring waypoint. We had a sweet little sail set for the last 150 miles into the scoring gate and that popped us out in front for a third at that point.

On the run just before the scoring gate, we had the longest run, 140 miles in six hours, that is 560 miles/day pace. The boat is slamming downwind very violently. No one can sleep when it is this rough. As you go from 25 to 30 knots of boat speed, the keel hums to a higher and higher pitch. Then you feel the boat un-weigh itself, you go a bit weightless like in an airplane sometimes and you just cringe in your bunk as you know the bottom of the wave is coming. Sometimes it is just a big snowplow and rapid deceleration which makes you hold onto your bunk so you don’t slide forward on top of the guy in front of you. Those are the ones which create 2 feet of whitewater rolling down the deck. Other times we find the bottom by doing a violent belly flop which shutters and send vibrations throughout the boat. I am sure the other boats are doing the same because they are going as fast as we are. It is not hard to spend time wondering how long these boats can take this type of punishment. Typing and using the cursor is very hard. A lot of spell check and re-typing is needed. Kind of a two steps forward – one back exercise.

This leg is scored in three places, 70East, Eclipse Island, and the finish. The first two together are of the same value as the finish in Melbourne. ABN AMRO ONE after taking off in their own breeze a few nights ago and leaving us to deal with a decaying cold front for two days, had to pay back a bit of her lead last night to get in front of the three of us as we have been ripping along on the front side of this new low pressure system.

A few nights ago we hit something in the water. It put a gouge in our rudder about 1.5 meters down from the hull. Structurally it is fine just got a small bite taken out.

Today was a big day for me, I went for THE change. Today was THE day on this trip when I would put on my ONE change of thermal underwear or “base layer”. I took a shower by using baby wipes and then put on the crispy new clothes. Makes you feel like a new person!

Then one hour later, after reviewing the latest weather and position report with Jules, I decided we needed a bigger sail up so I went up on deck and went on the bow to help Juggy Clougher make the change. So much for the new clothes – soaked.

That is what I like about this race, struggling together to achieve something like a sail change in very adverse conditions – 30 knots of wind, cold water, 2 feet of water coming down the deck. It is such a struggle just to get the sail up to the bow, undoing the stack, pulling off the heavy sails that are on top of the one you want, pulling the one you want out of the stack of wet heavy sails, then putting the stack back in order and cinching it down so that the waves which are rolling down the deck don’t wash your inventory overboard, then dragging the new sail up to the bow and tying it forward so it doesn’t wash aft. Then you begin the process of hanking the sail on and actually changing. Then you take down the one that is up. In the end it is like doing to a hard aerobic work out of an hour. That is what is special and different about this race. I never go on the bow in the America’s Cup and Juggy Clougher never gets to steer in the America’s Cup.

Then after that, Curtis Blewett and I wrestled with a heavy stack of wet sails to reset them as they tend to slide inboard with waves hitting them at 30 knots regularly. Then I drove the boat for 1.5 hours. Pretty fun sailing at 30 knots and surfing the big open ocean waves. We shot some video footage this morning of the happenings on deck…truly wild sailing, much more so that on the 60’s in the past.

All these things that we do out here are thing of great memories that I will all enjoy for the rest of my life. That is why I am doing it again. I am enjoying reliving the experiences of 1997-1998 rather than just talking about them. They will always be there for me but now I am making some more.

This time it has all been pretty mild as we are so far north that the water temp has always been in the high teens. The crew are well, the boat is basically in good shape. This weather system will take us a long way to Eclipse Island at high speeds although we have seen the maximum winds which peaked at 36 knots.

Wow. If you are still reading this I am impressed. I guess I made up for missing one yesterday.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean