Position: 58,34.43N , 6,29.32W
Speed: 11 knots, Course: 39 deg.
We are finally moving again. We have been slating for the past six hours up here at a place called “The Butt of Lewis”. That says it all.
After so much high intensity sailing, 30000 miles around the world, this leg has been agonizingly slow for all the teams. The fleet has managed to sail 800 miles in 5 days. Not a good average for Volvo 70’s. We have not gotten one splash on the deck in 5 days.
In conditions like these, you have all kinds of situations where the wind magically evaporates, or shifts 90 degrees in the opposite direction it was trending for the previous hour, etc. Last night we also managed to snag two crab pots; we had to back down to free ourselves of one and the other eventually ripped off.
More disturbingly and importantly, we don’t seem to have good speed in light air. That is hard to believe because the Farr boats are supposed to be fast in light air but we haven’t been. I would say it is new to us also as we are usually good in light air. But this leg has been extraordinarily flat seas, and has been good for a true upwind Code 0 fractional sail and a masthead spinnaker that is very straight on the luff so it acts as a big genoa. Both of our sails in those categories are much more all around than the one’s of our competitors which are slanted more for the light conditions.
So it has been a long leg for us battling away in a position that we are not used to being in after the last few very successful legs. We just have to tough it out and do the best we can which is what we are doing.
Yesterday, ABN Amro One went through the fleet in 14 knots down wind like we were all on 60 footers. Sailed past us so fast we thought we had weed on the keel, (luckily we did not back down) and then she sailed right up to Brasil1, who was six miles ahead of us, and straight on past them. It must be nice to ride around on a rocket like that! It almost seems that the ABN boats are better in smooth seas than in rough and that is minimizing the fact that they are wide and should be slow in this light air.
By now you probably know that the Volvo Ocean Race Committee has shortened this leg. We are well overdue for our arrival in Rotterdam. At this point in time, even with the leg shortened by approximately 140 miles, we will still not arrive in Rotterdam until Saturday afternoon. The in port race is scheduled for Saturday 1300. We have not been informed of the “what if’s” on that one.
Brasil1 and Ericsson have maintained their lead on us and the “Second group” which includes ABN Amro Two and Brunel. We haven’t been able to catch the first group although we can see them every now and then which keeps us hopeful.
With the new course, we now have to pass through a narrow cannel at the top of Scotland that is about 2.5 miles wide. It is just to the north of 1000 meter mountains and the gradient wind direction is supposed to be South.
Further, there is a lot of current flowing through this cut so it will be important to be lucky here on the timing of our arrival. Our ETA as of now is 0400 Thursday.
>From there we have 450 miles to Rotterdam. The forecast is for light southerly breezes which means sailing upwind, tacking back and forth down the west side of the same high pressure system that plagued the fleet on the way out to Ireland.
Hopefully my in-laws, who live near Gothenburg Sweden, are getting some nice weather out of these poor sailing conditions.
We have been rationing our food for a few days now. We have just one meal a day. Ww have a few snacks and hot drinks to augment the one meal. We are not getting overly grumpy yet, but it is not the normal happy crowd.
I just came back to the nav station after helping change the spinnaker. The wind has died to 4 knots again.
Looks like another slow time coming up.
Pirates of the Caribbean