Race 8A from Brisbane to the Philippines. This was a very tough race as it had everything. It had all points of sail, reaching, downwind (dead downwind), upwind (a lot of upwind)...with wind strengths from 0 knots to 40 knots, water spouts, thunderstorms, a lot of rain, and who could forget the relentless (still) heat. We cross the line in the early hours (local time) this morning which equates to 2258 UTC on the 4 February. We had one last ditch attempt the come steaming in and snatch away eighth position from Jamaica Get All Right. As it were, there just wasn’t enough race course to overtake them.
We had a marvellous night sailing last night, probably the best on the trip, averaging 11 knots. We closed the gap to a mere 4 miles to Jamaica Get All Right, but we just weren’t fast enough as the wind typically died as we approached the finish line.
It has been a long trip so far, and we are only half way there! We had a good start, and first couple of nights. We strayed a little too far to the east in hindsight sailing to a north easterly shift that just didn’t quite turn. We made up a ton of ground at the first gate as the leaders were forced to sail north, and when we arrived where they were, the wind paid us a nice little shift to start heading to the north west. The New Guinean coast was a tough gig. The wind never quite settled in from one direction, it was up and down like a yoyo with some very big squalls. One hour you sit there with nothing and watch another boat 8 mile from you sail in a straight line at 10 knots past you, only for the table to be reversed six hours later! So in one respect at that stage of the race - there was always hope...Our initial tactic was to stay close to the rhumb line to put ourselves in a good position if the race was going to be call early. Although it was shorten, the technique of shortening did really work for us. It became obvious we had to get off the Papa New Guinea coast to cover the fleet and escape the brutal south west flowing current. If we had our time over again I would have gone north into the pacific ocean about 18 hours earlier. Has it turns out our tactic was very similar to Henri Lloyd, but they pounced on the northerly course earlier and it paid off for them.
From there, we had the never ending heavy upwind sailing. With not many wind shifts to play, it made it hard to overtake or make ground up on the other boats around. So we had to bide our time and wait for the yoyo effect of the light weather again to play catch up. It didn’t work so well for us this time. It seemed the boats that timed there northerly rout did very well, but the lead the southerly boats built early in the race kept them in there until the end. I wish we were up there in the think of it, but there is always Race 8B and Race 9.
The crew have come on amazingly. The helming has been evenly distributed through the crew - as it turns out there is a bit of talent on board. Our sail changes got better and every fell in to life on board with relative ease.
We are now in cruise mode - which does not mean bikinis, hammocks and folk songs, but work, work, work! Ok, ok, a little of the above, and we even stop for a 10 minute swim! (only because we had to change the oil in our engine, but the crew loved it) but we have a lot of work planned for each which starts at the 0700 am watch and finish up before dinner... with a nice relaxing time in the middle...we'll endeavour to do some training and crew presentation, and come up with better ways to perform for the next race.
We are in pirate territory now, so we are on constant look out for threats. There are many local fishermen around who have no worries coming right up to the boat.. They just want a sticky beak, and sell some fish, but sometime you just don’t know.
The night sky is amazing up here. We have the benefit of viewing the north and south hemisphere skies with the big dipper (The Plough) in the north, and the Southern Cross in the south. So we motor on until our fuel stop, and we will be off again!
So common EVERYBODY you know what’s coming - "RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW"