Seems Like this Leg has Taken Forever

Position: 39,22.95S , 140,45.40E

Speed: 9 knots, Course: 24 deg.

230 miles to go…seems like this leg has taken forever. We have nice sailing tonight, 12 knots of wind from the southwest so we are running toward Melbourne. The seas are smooth and fully in line with the wind so these are good conditions for our keel. We are making about 10 knots toward the mark.

Last night was an awful night as you could probably tell from my short email early this morning. The wind playing havoc with us and the seas were quite nasty which created a lot of stress on all of us as we could feel the “slop”

in our keel bearings on each slam. Add to that a very strong thunder and lightening storm with constant rain and you have “less than ideal conditions”.

It was a good test of our team. We are all physically and mentally tired. We could have easily gotten on each other then, but we all just realized what it was, a blip on the radar of this very long race, and took some deep breaths. Very testing conditions!

Looking back on the leg, it is hard not to remember all the hurdles; the broken radar bracket on the first night, the broken boom vang (both of those got repaired by the crew a sea), the electrical fire due to a short in the keel controls on the port steering pedestal, the keel structure that had us quite concerned and forced us to slow down for 48 hours mid way across the Indian Ocean, the compromised port fresh water tank, the titanium keel ram itself snapping and forcing us into Albany for a quick centerline lock job, and the leaks which have kept our pumps busy and buckets full for the past two weeks. Our bilge is the cleanest bilge ever seen on a boat. When the water comes out from below, it is crystal.

However, there has been a lot of good on this leg for the Black Pearl. We have finally raced a leg and that has given us a chance to calibrate our systems, Jules and my working relationship on weather routing and strategy, our watch systems, and our sail changing techniques. We have a god grip on our boats performance in all conditions and when to use which sail combinations. These things all take time on the water and we have just put in our first three week stint in this VOR 70 class. We also learned a lot about things that seem trivial but are still important to have completely sorted out such as; how much diesel we burn each day, how much food we consume each day.

Also, I should point out the components that are holding up to the beating that these boats dish out; the mast by Hall spars is solid as a rock, the sails by North – haven’t torn anything yet, the Spectra fresh water maker – which as you can imagine is vital, our cordage by Maffioli has held up perfectly – no chaffing or broken sheets, even the computers – “Toughbooks” by Panasonic have held up perfectly and our food by Real Expedition has stood the test of three weeks and we still look forward to eating. As much as all teams will be harping on what doesn’t work or failed, I think it is worth mentioning those items that have stood his test. I think these boats dish out more punishment than anyone or any computer program predicted and that is why a lot of things are failing.

On the performance side, sure, the ABN boats are very quick. No one can deny that in any kind of power reaching condition, they are the fastest boats out here. And legs 2 and 4 should be perfect for them. However, trying to look a the positive, we were 30 miles behind ABN1 on day 6 when 30 miles made the difference between staying back with ABN2 and Movistar and riding the front and putting 300 miles on the fleet. Then while racing ABN2 and Movistar, we initially gained on them in moderate conditions until we all went through the transition which seemed to punish us extra hard. There is still lot of race left and especially from Rio on where there will be a good mix of conditions. Now is not the time to make hasty judgments, at least not for me and my team.

Now is the time to get the boat repaired and reliable for another very tough leg. Now is the time to get our minds and bodies recharged. Now is the time for all Pirates, whatever their role, to dig in and bring their best game to the table, leg after leg, stopover after stopover, in-port race after in-port race, hurdle after hurdle. That’s what it is going to take for us to win this race. We may not be doing it the easy way, but we have to play with the cards we are holding. We all know the Round the World Race is a long and hard race, and we are not even half way done. This is a 12 round, heavy-weight championship fight.

Standby for round 3.


Pirates of the Caribbean