Cape to Rio 2020. Racing in the Teeth of A Storm

Haspa Hamburg is just 48 seconds ahead of Zulu Girl on handicap.
pic by Alec Smith

Zulu Girl has 48 seconds to make up on overall handicap time, on the projected elapsed times, to snatch a podium place from Haspa Hamburg.
pic by Alec Smith

By Richard Crockett

There are some brave souls out there who are sailing to win, and are sailing through the eye of a major storm in an attempt to win this race. That’s not to say that they are foolhardy – it’s anything but foolhardy in my book, as this is ocean racing, and in ocean racing one has to be prepared for bad weather, be able to respond to it positively, and to “vasbyt” until it has passed.

First in were the team on ‘JM Busha 45′, and a report I read late last night, but cannot unfortunately locate again, went like this from Michaela on board: “we are in the gale, fully reefed, going well, and it’s nothing we cannot handle”. That’s positive stuff from a bunch of youngsters – and it warms my heart!

This morning’s 10h00 position shows that they will exit the storm within the next few hours, but what does concern me is that they appear to have been pushed to leeward of the optimum course to Rio, and instead of gaining miles towards the finish have lost some and are further off the finish line than they may have liked to be.

Also in the storm are ‘Haspa Hamburg’ and ‘Mussulo’, with ‘Mojie’ in the north on its fringes, and others heading towards it. ‘Saravah’ has broken from her rivals and is set to sail over the top of the front. She’s in a good position right now on the leader board, but will this move stand her in good stead all the way to the finish?

This may well be the point at which this race is won or lost!

Still wearing the leader’s crown is ‘Mussulo’, in fact two crowns, as she has the monohull and two-handed handicap lead at the moment. I must admit that her course to the finish is looking better all the time, and to me, she is well positioned right now.

Mention has to be made right here of ‘Almagores’ as at one point she was the most southern boat in the fleet, and now, having made lots of northing, is lining up about 90nm directly astern of ‘Mussulo’. Added to this she has logged the best day’s run of 270nm compared to the next best, Mussulo, of 238nm.

The monohull handicap projected finish and elapsed times (10h00 today) are extremely interesting as it puts ‘Mussulo’, ‘Saravah’, ‘Haspa Hamburg’ and ‘Zulu Girl’ all finishing on Monday with a spread of just 11 hours separating them on handicap. That’s close with the next few days being make or break, and meaning that they have to sail full-on to win.

Even more interesting is that the fight for the final podium place, at this stage anyway, shows that just 48 seconds is the difference between 3rd and 4th place – so to grab a spot on the podium ‘Zulu Girl’ has her work cut out.

I was interested to see mention of a crewman having tossed all the cutlery to Neptune. Now Neptune does not need any more cutlery- he is overstocked – there is always one person on every race like this, who does this dastardly deed, and who deserves a keel-hauling or the cat-‘o-nine tails!

Believe me, it’s easy to make this mistake as washing is normally done in a bucket. What does happen is that a plate can cover the cutlery at the bottom of the bucket, and when the washer-upper feels the bottom of the bucket before tossing the contents out, he thinks the bucket is empty – and over the contents go – cutlery and all!

A wise old sea dog once told me that he ALWAYS carried his own set of utensils in his sailing bag – just in case! I followed that advice, and this too – he also said that any crew who did not have a bosun’s knife on them when on deck was foolhardy. Sage advice indeed.