What is new this ‘Thundering Tuesday?’ Week trotting along in the right direction, hitting the waypoints within the time frames?
Why ‘Thundering Tuesday’ you may enquire? It should have been ‘Thundering Monday’ really, but it wasn’t a blog day. The reason for the ‘thundering’ is we have been ‘thundering’ along since around 11:00UTC Monday, and some of that is in the right direction, which has been a bonus.
The reason we have been hitting some great speeds (Ted has set the current Leg recorded at 22.6kts, witnessed and confirmed of course by #1) is the cold from quite a big low-pressure system that has come up behind us. This has brought some fairly strong northerly backing north westerly breeze The most we have seen is 48kts but a lot of the time in the high 30kts guesting into the low 40kts. This has been broken up occasionally with lulls into the 20s region. All of this has led to both watches getting some exciting helming opportunities, combined with reef in – reef out evolutions. (Reefing is the process of reducing the size of the main sail, to stop the boat from being overpowered by the wind).
It's looking like we will get favourable winds from this system well into Wednesday. Then potentially another low pressure centred down near White Island, 66ºS 49ºE (960hPa) starts influencing us as we get caught in the squeeze of a high-pressure system in the Indian Ocean. This could see us making some great progress towards Fremantle till into the weekend and demonstrate why the ‘Roaring Forties’ are so named.
Since we last caught up, there has been a lot of ‘risk vs reward’ decision-making going on, along with the fact that this race is just short of 5,000nm. On Sunday, when the breeze kicked in, we hoisted the kite and spent a while on the Code 1, which is the light wind spinnaker. The breeze continued to build so we switched to the medium wind one. We did a couple of gybes, changing the side of the boat that the wind came from, so we changed direction. Under the spinnaker there is always the opportunity for things to go slightly off script, giving you some problem-solving opportunities you could do without. However, they were probably the best-executed kite gybes since we left Portsmouth.
Dare To Lead and Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam were about a mile in front of us, we were keeping pace and confidence was high across the crew. Then in the afternoon, the watch just started to struggle helming with the spinnaker: a number of the helms had the sail collapse and flog. The boat rounded up quite a few times. After a very quick discussion with Maisie, we dropped the kite and watched the two other boats disappear over the horizon, which was very disappointing. However, the kite was undamaged, and more importantly, no one was injured, nor did a crew member have a massive confidence knock due to causing damage to the spinnaker.
We set the boat’s sail plan for the forecast early using the barometer pressure reading as the trigger. Both the dropping of the kite and sail changes for the weather front, have cost us some miles against the lead boats, which added to the error in a tactical decision undermining our good start is very frustrating. The positives are confidence is still high, and there is no damage to anyone or anything as we are about to enter one of the harshest sailing arenas on the globe. We will be very isolated, and a significant distance from support other than other Clipper Race boats in the main. The current Bekezela approach is that of one of the core values, patience. After all, there are still over 4,000nm and at least 20 days to go. Time will tell.
The new crew is settling in well, albeit somewhat surprised by the relentless amount of work that is taking place at any one time. Trimming sails, changing sails, below deck cleaning, checking and emptying the bilges, cleaning the heads, etc. They are given support by crew who have previous legs of the race under their belts. We are only a few days into Race 4 and the boat routine is pretty much well established and thankfully only a few sufferings with the green monster.
The best quote of the day was from one crew member, who I knew was suffering a bit, when I asked her how she was doing, she replied, “a bit snotty, but we are doing some great speeds!” A true Bekezela Ocean Warrior.
Lisa, have a safe trip home, say hi to June and give her a hug from me.
On this day (21st November) 1877, Thomas Edison announced the invention of the first phonograph, that certainly caused a bit of a spin.
Think that's all for now
David, Maisie and the Bekezela Crew