Race 1 - Day 14
Being last in the middle fleet gives you some options that other boats in the fleet may not have. We have nothing to lose, so if we gybe off on a tangent because we are currently trailing the mid fleet nothing worse can happen! That is what we did, taking advice from the GRIB weather files, and something that Garmin Skipper Ash said as he was coming past 'Dakhlet Nouadhibou', this is the part of Africa that sticks out and the wind funnels past there and accelerates quite considerably compared to the rest of the African coast.
Shortly after gybing off the same course as Unicef and ClipperTelemed+ we came into the winds we were after, 15 to 20 knots. We had just relieved ‘Boadicea’ (our lightweight spinnaker) of her duties for the day having noticed another hole in her and popped ‘Apache’ (our medium weight spinnaker) in her place. When in the right winds we gybed again, it didn’t go so smoothly this time and we rubbed her on the forestay as she was coming over to the leeward side. This caused a small rip in ‘Apache’ close to the luff.
By this time the wind was around 15 knots giving us an apparent wind speed of around 8 to 10 knots. The apparent wind speed is the true wind plus or minus your speed through the water. For instance if I am doing 5 knots into a 10 knot wind, then I will have 15 knots apparent wind. In this case we were heading downwind therefore the apparent wind was less than the true wind speed. Anyway I decided to take a gamble and get ‘Boadicea’ up again and use her immense power to propel us downwind. We were doing really well and surfing at speeds of up to 15 knots, then it all went quiet.
The spinnaker block at the top of the mast is held there by a spectra (strong rope) loop strop. This had failed and the whole block had made its way by the fastest possible route down to the sea, taking with it Boadicea, our precious lightweight spinnaker. So for the second time in two weeks we have had a spinnaker in the water trailing beside us.
Getting it in was fairly straight forward as the tack was still attached so she just trailed alongside the boat as she was slowing down now to a meagre 9 knots. I called for all hands on deck and the crew all went to work on the low guard rail, pulling poor old ‘Boadicea’ back on board. In the process of this she had developed another large (5 metre) rip in her. She is currently heaped in a corner of the sail locker feeling sorry for herself, before the sailmakers make their appraisals and bring her back to life.
Did I mention we were going slow?! We couldn’t have that, so with the wind due to increase, we decided that the heavyweight spinnaker would be the sail of choice tonight to make the most of those winds.
So it has been a busy watch. We have since put Leg 1 crew member Andy Richards up the mast to re-secure the block and re-lead the spinnaker halyard. The watch has just changed and is getting to grips with the trimming and helming on deck, so I will allow for flogging for the next ten minutes or so!
We had our ‘Delia award’ (named after the celebrated chef, Delia Smith) during happy hour today and round the world crew members Lavinia Darby and Gavin Reid were favoured by the majority for their apple crumble and custard. We didn’t have time to do the ‘Legend award’ today and will be doing that tomorrow as we came through a massive pod of dolphins and predator fish in feeding frenzy, some of which peeled off from their eating to play in our bow waves for a time before returning to the dinner table. It was quite spectacular with tuna jumping high into the air! So ten minutes of our happy hour was spent watching the show.
So just to recap, we have had every spinnaker up today, lost one halyard, re-secured one halyard and done some pretty good mileage!
All in all a good day, here’s looking at the Race Viewer, hopefully for advancements
in our position after today.
Mission Performance Warriors Out For Now