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Vaquita - week one

Day seven in our third ARC and I haven't managed to report back and have only taken 15 photos and a short video. Maybe I got a bit lazy, but have had quite a bit on as well!

Very tricky start this year; two wind systems fighting each other. A last minute headsail change and the blanketing of larger yachts stopped us 50 meters from the line. Only Berenice got right away into the fresh southerly wind, while we had to fight light winds downwind.

Once free we opted for a mid inshore route to get into the southerly breeze. The plan worked out alright and we found ourselves amidst much larger yachts in position 4 or 5. Near the airport we had to let Auliana and Tyke go; there's no way we can keep up with yachts 20 feet longer hard on the wind.

While the Madeira low delivered some exceptional ARC late autumn start conditions, it was likely that the Azores high would re-establish soon, even though slightly distorted and out of position. So remember what JYB said - sail in, check the wind limit and gybe out. After Hierro the wind started to veer, soon the A6 sail went up and we went blasting west!

We, that's a crew of six, this time without female support and control (and max testosterone sailing). Skipper Christof, already successful in last years ARC, Nico fresh from the 49er at London Olympics, Udo and Martin long time sailing mates of myself on Volvo boats and a big boat first timer, Dominik.

The strategic plan: gybe on Friday and slingshot around the low that develops at 40 W.

The sailing was very wet and very wild, unsteady winds, ever changing wave patterns. All hatches battened down, Vaquita became a humid cave, no dry spot, wet sleeping bags, soaked to the skin for entire five days. The rollercoaster ride limited activities to sailing - sleeping - sailing - sleeping, once a day eating after fighting the kettle in full armour. Vaquita was shooting over the water until she deciding to dive, and deep she did, sending cascades of water into the air sideways and picking up loads to drown the crew. Wonder how the A6 survived the maltreatment?

The winds were slightly stronger than forecast, which left the big gear in the bag except for 24 hours and an interesting night which Nico and I shared on the helm.

Team Vaquita stock recommendation: Buy Intendis shares, their turnover is going to skyrocket once we will replenish our Skinoren ointment stock! It treats the "spotty botty" really well. You don't know about spotty botty? Then you haven't been in your smelly soaked clothes for a week rubbing open your infected backside! Just try it out, really works well (only Christof complained that it hurts after application).

Low latitude lows are so much more cheeky then their higher latitude relatives. Seems they wanna make up for their smaller size with really bad behaviour. Couldn't make up his mind the little b'##*d, go North, stay South, no move a bit, no better stall, even confusing GFS. Eventually it was very kind to us. While we had no clue where it hid, the wind picked up, torrential rain set in and.....the wind backed while we expected it to veer. Wow, little b'##*d stayed south, nice little b'##*d. One gybe at midnight, then out towards the West.

This morning the sky cleared up, sun came out and Vaquita got the caressing she deserved. Drying her out, mending ropes, checking the rig and for us showers, fresh clothes and loads of food.

Eating on Vaquita: A la carte, always and whenever we want :-) . You simply choose the freeze dried meal you like, add water and wait for 10 minutes!.

Whatever the outcome of the race will be, we are very proud to lead boats across we did not expect to even have near us (actually they are not really near us anyway). That's mainly down to the great performance of the team, they would only take the foot off the pedal if I insisted. (25.93kts won the
speed competition between Martin, Nico and Udo).

The sad news first: This will be our last Atlantic crossing on Vaquita. The great news, we are building a new one to be launched in spring. Vaquita is looking for someone who takes her across next year and she is very keen to go! Please call.

Need to catch some sleep as nights are getting darker.


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