Scarlet Oyster - Ross Update
Lot been going on here, been some challenging sailing with some very unstable winds at times. we have had anything from 8kn to 40kn, in any direction from NNE to SE, the unstable nature of this wind makes sail selection a headache, we can only sensibly fly spinnakers upto 27kn, we have a hard limit onboard that as soon as we see 30kn, the spinnaker comes down, bravado of sailing in more with a spinnaker may seem to have rewards, but the potential risks become too great, also in 25kn plus we can sail with poled out jib and still make very acceptable speeds.
The trick the wind seems to have is to peak at just over 30, so we drop the kite then within 1 or 2 mins drop to 20kn, we have to tie the spinnaker in bio degradable natural wool for each hoist to ensure no twists or other issues, this takes 15mins at least. Normally by the time the spinnaker is ready, another cloud looms, so we delay the hoist, of course the expected strong wind never arrives, so after over an hour going slow, we rehoist and within 30mins we have 30knots again!!! And so the cycle continues! This cycle requires Jules, Sil and my attention, and at some point we have to get a bit of sleep so we catch up on sleep while the boat cruises along at 8kn with no spinnaker. Having the 3 of us really helps us with rest, typically each night we do 4 hrs each, giving us 8hrs off, we have comondeered the little bunk cabin, which is handy for the nav area, and also good coz no one else wants to sleep there as it is so hot!
As the crossing and race has developed it has become clear who the top competition are. In our class EH01 has made good speeds, but lost out significantly in the windless area we dodged in week 1, they have not really recovered. Jua Kali did well staying out the hole, but perhaps Global yacht racing’s team orders have been issued and they have handed 2nd place back to EH01! Escapado took a flyer west at the beginning which was looking good, but they have not had speed to make it stick, trying to fly spinnakers 24/7 is much harder on the boat and gear than one may imagine, we probably do the equivalent downwind sailing as several years of round the cans racing, all in one go!
With competition in our own class shaping up as we could of wished for our attention has included racing class A. This class includes many more professional outfits, with the largest boat a carbon 1hundered and something footer owned by 'mr Prada’ Ulisse, a volvo 65, 2 well campaigned Swan 82s, a well sorted Italian 60 footer to name a few, however the winner of Class A from last year is also back, which is the JP 54 ‘The Kid’ owned and sailed by Jean Pierre Dick. JP Dick is a very experienced offshore solo sailer taking part in the Vendee globe amongst other races.
They are now spitting distance from the finish line and are about to set the ‘bar’ on handicap, they nearly matched the Volvo 65 on elapsed time! We expect them to finish at about 1730UTC today with an Elapsed time of 12 days 5hrs and 15mins. Allowing for the handicap difference, we need to finish by 0415UTC on Tuesday morning to better them, our routing has us finishing between 0000UTC and 0600UTC depending on which wind model and which velocity prediction we choose to believe!
Whats clear is the optimum route does not allow for go slows or breakages, safety is of paramount importance and some of these squalls demand serious respect, we must tread the path between keeping things safe, and also maintaining good performance. The result will be close, and it is clear JP has sailed a great race, we just hope we can sail as well too!
All is well onboard, the mini generator has been nice and quiet, allowing for lots of energy on board, so the freezer has been at constant -20 deg, and the watermaker has been providing showers for us all too! We are down to our last 2 decent precooked meals, one thai Green curry and one beef chilli con carne remain, the last meal will be cashew nut stir fry, and there are also some tinned curry. we won’t starve!
No fishing so far, we have had a bit too much on with the sailing!