Challenging conditions for Sir Robin in The Transatlantic Race

04 July 2015

Clipper Race Chairman and Founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has been experiencing strong winds and bouncy conditions in the 2,800 nautical mile Transatlantic Race aboard his Open 60 yacht Grey Power.

Sir Robin and his crew on Grey Power set off on the afternoon of Wednesday 1 July. They are racing to Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK.

Sir Robin is joined on board by four friends. They are: Commander Dilip Donde from the Indian Navy, who became the first Indian to circumnavigate the world singlehanded in 2010, two-time Vendee Globe competitor Bernard Gallay of France who joined Sir Robin in 1982 on an Atlantic crossing aboard Sea Falcon, David Aisher - ex Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and Rear Commodore Sailing, the Royal Yacht Squadron; and Joshua Warren of the Monaco Yacht Club.

Here is their first racing blog:

Having been at sea now for just under 48 hours, we have started to settled into our at sea routine despite the at times challenging conditions.

For the last 24 hours, we have been experienced strong south westerly Force 6 wind. Having started with a full main and gennaker, we have since reduced the mainsail one reef at a time until now we have our third reef - gennaker to jib to trisail. Grey Power is loving it with top speed in excess of 27 knots and we are most often sailing at 15 to 20 knots, eating up the miles.

We are now the most southerly yacht of the fleet - intentional as it gives us sea room to come off the wind if required and still clear the Ice Gate.

Grey Power is a very flat bottomed boat without bilge or sole boards and hence it does not take much for a little water to go everywhere. Spray down the hatch or crews coming below in full wet weather gears does it. We are using our trusted bucket and sponge to collect this water and return it where it belongs!

Additionally we have also discovered a few minor leaks (as you would expect on a boat who is spending a lot of time under spray and/ or water) and the engineering department will sort these out as soon as the weather permits. We also have an issue on our reefing winch but we have overcome this by putting an additional block near the boom's gooseneck and now use a halyard winch - some say to better effect!

This water everywhere is making life in Grey Power humid and sweaty. There is little to no ventilation below and when we close the main hatch, the sauna effect soon takes over. It a matter of weighting up taking the odd shower through the hatch or boiling those resting!

The first night we operated our trusted rolling watch system with someone coming on deck every two hours to relieve one going below. Last night we opted for a two on, two off system - one team being Anglo-Indian and the other being predominantly French (well so we think!) The skipper helped regularly with sail reefing and other duties so all in all we had a busy night but still we all managed to get some pillow time (not that there are any pillows on this vessel...).

That's it for now, apparently we have done nearly 600 miles since leaving so we are pleased with our progress. Cooking in these conditions also presents its challenges. Our main burner modified with spare bits of mast track is doing fine but frying eggs requires as much team work as operating the boat. One hand for the boat, one hand for the frying pan, one hand for the box of eggs and one for the boat. Given the conditions, we are not into big meals but our trusted pot mess did us well last night and porridge and coffee this morning was easy to do in the bouncy conditions which we are expericing.

The forecast is for the wind to ease in the next six hours which will be welcomed by all on board but in the meantime we are enjoying our fast sailing towards Cowes.

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