Hard on the wind and diving south.
By Matthew Thomas
As they dive south towards the Canaries, Phillippa and Pip are now in the strong south easterlies that are preceding the dominant westerlies that will let them crack off and start the drag race to the Canaries with the rest of the Class 40s.
I’m sure it’s pretty darned wet and cold still and the ride is uncomfortable in the 30 knot winds and accompanying seas. Most definitely not for the fait hearted, but these two women are tough and are sailing smart.
Pushing where they need to, but never pushing too hard that they’ll damage their trusty steed. Double handed racing, especially the Transat Jacques Fabre is often a war of attrition and they know that there are 4 600nm ahead of them.
This dogged approach is paying off as they have crept up another place and are now lying 8th in class!
Looking at their track through the night, they’ve been working hard with multiple tacks. No small feat in these agile little rocket ships as each time you tack, the work begins – drag all your gear across the boat to the weather side and stack it on the uphill bunk, all 500kg of it. On deck, this will include their genoa and any other sails they have lashed down, all the while getting soaked by the ice cold Atlantic swells in very tough conditions.
This madness will continue for the next 10 to 12 hours as they wait for the wind to slowly back and allow them to crack off a bit. Once that happens, the boat speed will go up, the motion should calm down a little and the water across the deck will increase dramatically and they’ll be working even harder when helming as each wave pours across the deck and tries to wash them away.
For Phillippa and Pip, entering the Trade winds will be a welcome relief as their boat speed will go up and the conditions will most definitely start to improve. They’ll know that soon they will be able to dry out their home, which rest assured is thoroughly soaked. They’ll be able to start to dry out themselves, the wrinkles on their hands will get smaller and their spirits will soar. They’ll have time to do the numerous maintenance chores that they need and get a fresh pair of dry clothes out of their waterproof bags. Small things that will delight.
As I have been writing this, the latest weather data has come in and they’re now in the Trades! Looking at the wind arrows, the wind is just abaft the beam, so they’ll be starting to get their genoa out and drawing as well as starting to prep their spinnaker to start the slide south.
Ahead, the Ultime trimarans are well past the Canaries and sailing in 15kts of breeze after a night of light winds as the passed to the east of the Canaries. ‘Sodebo’ is still leading and has squeezed a few extra miles overnight from ‘Macif’.
The IMOCA fleet is now tucked into the Tradewinds and well the northwest of the Canaries. Armel Le Cléac’h and Erwan Tabarly on the very new ‘Banque Populaire VIII’ are blasting down the course ahead of their rivals on ‘PRB’ and ‘Queguiner –Leucemie Espoir’. With the winds well aft, these latest generation IMOCA 60’s are showing just how fast the new foils are as they’re sailing deep downwind at above the real wind speed, no mean feat for a monohull.
The MULTI 50’s are now between the Azores and Madeira and also well into the Trade winds. They’re still being led by ‘Ceila Village’, but there has been some change in second place with ‘FenëtréA Prysmian’ now in 2nd place.