Race 2: Hundred Years Cup has provided some of the best downwind spinnaker runs that Race Crew can experience. Having the yacht surfing down cresting waves and hearing the wake behind the boat as the kite is flying is one of sailing’s purest joys. And for moments like these, there is only one place to be: behind the helm. What can make this even more special? Helming at night under a starlit sky, using constellations and the moon to keep a course.

Image: Helming on board Yacht Club Punta Del Este

With the downwind run coming to an end as the fleet nears Punta del Este, Race Crew, Skippers and AQPs give their accounts of the incredible moments shared on board during Leg 1:

Elisa Reiterer, a 31-year-old doctor from Austria, racing on board UNICEF: “Every night watch, we follow the planets as they travel across the sky, with Saturn shining high above, his rings almost visible, and Venus burning unusually bright at dawn, straight to the east, foreboding the sunrise. We find constellation after constellation, the ancient names of their primary stars rolling off the tongue like gemstones: Altair, in the Eagle, Arabic in origin, Vega, in the Lyre, named by the Greek, Sirius, the eye of the Dog. We observe showers of shooting stars, making silent wishes in the small hours of the night.”

Mike Miller, Skipper on PSP Logistics: “The moon on deck, as I write is bathing everything in an amazing light. Rubbish for our budding amateur stargazers, for whom Orion is the only thing visible in the glare, but fantastic for steering and sail changes at night.”

Image: Life at 45 degrees by moonlight

Charlie Warhurst AQP on board Dare To Lead: “The Dare To Lead school of kiting is in full swing, we've got the Code 3 up, our smallest kite, and have been flying it all through the night. On previous night schools, we've been sailing without them being able to use the compass, instead relying on everything else, the stars, what the sail is actually doing, and the heaving and lurching of the boat.

“Tonight, however, that's changed. We've had thick cloud cover all night and an unpredictable swell. It’s been incredibly tricky trying to keep the course with the crew describing it to feeling similar to "being Luke Skywalker" having to use the force to sense where the boat wants to go. It’s a tricky skill that can be quite intimidating at first but with time everyone's starting to get it.”

Image: Surfing down waves by moonlight

Eric Froggat, a 57-year-old engineer, circumnavigating the globe on board Ha Long Bay Viet Nam: “Helming a Clipper 70 downwind is pretty exhilarating! Simply stunning stars at night, dolphins leaving trails of phosphorescent light as they play alongside under the moonlight, sea birds effortlessly gliding past with hardly a glance, sunrises and sunsets, watching the moon and stars change location in the sky (the North Star is getting lower!) the banter and companionship on board and the shared tough experiences that are the making of life-long friendships.”

James Finney, Skipper of Zhuhai: “I will remember this kite run as being one of the all-time greats, as it seemed to be just one long 15+ knot surf for 6 hours (it probably wasn't but at night it all feels like warp speed, even though it’s hard to drive that slow in your car) The moon was out, and the boat plunged relentlessly forward into the semi-darkness, pushing huge glittering plumes of water out from under her.”

Image: Race Crew taking the helm on board Our Isles and Oceans

Liv Jonetzki, a 30-year-old product manager on Qingdao: “Meeresleuchten– glowing ocean, as we call phosphorescence in German, is lighting our way with every beat we take through the waves. As the water breaks on our bow, it takes on a glow and small stars seem to travel in its spray.

“The moon breaks free of the clouds, and we can see the wild shapes of the stormy sea as we race along, water rushing over the low side of the deck taking hold of ropes, pulling the guard wire netting. Again and again, I find myself noticing these stark contrasts of nature’s beauty as she appears in her harshest, most humbling strength.”

Follow the fleet on the Race Viewer as Race 2: Hundred Years Cup starts to draw to a nail-biting finish.

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