Sir Robin Knox-Johnston: Everything to play for in Route du Rhum

11 November 2014

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is just 20 miles from the third-placed boat in his Rhum class on the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe race.

And only four miles separate him in sixth position on his Open 60 Grey Power and the fourth and fifth-placed yachts meaning there is a real battle on for the third podium place,

Class leader Anne Caseneuve on Aneo is in a more favourable position weather-wise and is more than 300 miles ahead of Sir Robin, who is 400 miles west of the Canary Islands. Rival Jean-Paul Froc on Groupe Berto currently holds third place.

Sir Robin is currently making 6.3 knots in around 8 knots of wind coming from the North West.

Here is Sir Robin's blog sent Tuesday morning.

Not a lot to report. The Azores High pressure looks like it is spreading and moving south which will slow most of us down. Light weather requires more work than stronger winds so it is going to get busier as well. This race could take a few more days than anticipated. So a busy day coming up.

In the Rhum Class, first and second are well out but first has the better position from a wind perspective. She has sailed an excellent tactical course and now, some 270 miles ahead of me, is going to be very hard to catch by anyone else. Between third and sixth there is now only seven miles difference to the finish and we are all in the same geographical area, so everything to go for.

There is a sail in sight to the North West, a red spinnaker. I have just spent the last two hours getting the gennaker set and he was slowly moving ahead whilst I was without a headsail. I think it must be Group Berto, but he is not showing on Automatic Identification System.

The loss of the jib head lashings is going to have a detrimental effect on performance. Whilst I can set the sail easily enough, dropping it is a very different matter. As anyone who has worked foredeck on a Clipper 68 or 70 knows, it is really a job for four people. The sail has to be kept out of the water, but the wind is pushing it over the side.

The only way I have found is to bear right away, take the halyard in my teeth, go forward, ease halyard and haul the sail inside the rail and sit on what I have recovered before easing another couple of feet.Thats fine when the wind is light, but the only way to control it if the wind is up is to put it aback and drop it against the inner forestays.

The fact is that the sail, which is a beautifully strong powerful reaching sail, cannot be used so much in future, which means more work for the staysail, and the boat does not balance with full main and staysail, it needs at least one reef, better two, so performance will drop off badly on certain occasions.

Nice on deck otherwise. Warm and sunny some of the time, but still too cool to sleep out under the stars in the cockpit at night without a sleeping bag.

RKJ

You can track Sir Robin and Grey Power here on the official race tracker.

It updates every hour.

The Clipper Race post his daily blogs here as well.

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