Getting the correct sail plan for the weather is one of a skipper's biggest conundrums; get it correct and you sail faster than everyone else, with boat speed making tactical decisions much easier. Get it wrong and you’re slowed, either by not having enough sail up so you’re under powered, or too much sail making the boat hard to control and steering in the right direction impossible. When we throw spinnakers into the mix, the jeopardy increases as having one of our wondrously fickle sails up in too much wind can end up destroying a sail... as the avid blog readers will know.
Along with several others in the fleet, we made this common mistake earlier on in the leg and now face the difficult choice of what to do when the desired sail is the one you don’t have. Do you be conservative and stay underpowered until the wind gets safely in to the range of the bigger spinnaker, or take the risk and push your next sail down to its limit in the search for speed, knowing that an unexpected increase in the wind or a mistake on the helm could mean a second sail to repair in port and one less to fly in the remaining days. This choice has been running around my head for the past 48 hours: To kite or not to kite?
With the wind helpfully sitting just on the upper limit of our Code 2, and the rest of the fleet also pushing for the finish, meaning the six-hour position updates are the only thing providing insight in to how hard the rest of the fleet are pushing. Looking at their average speeds, Laura and I play a guessing game in the nav as to what we think their sail pans are, if it matches ours or not, and how our speeds match with the fleet.
Dan, Laura and UNICEF crew