by Matthew Thomas
They’re now past Recife and headed toward the final headland, Cabo Frio, before they alter course toward Italjaï, sail past the famous beaches of Ipanema and sail the final 450nm to the finish.
The race has taken longer than expected as Phillippa explained in her blog: “The third week of the TJV has just flown by, while we thought we would arrive in Itajaï this week, sadly it has been a bit of a slow race. Pip and I both have full time jobs to go back to so we have had to notify work that we will be arriving home a week later. Pip works for the RNLI in Poole and I work for Southern Ropes UK which is based near Hamble. We distribute rope from our warehouse there as all the rope is manufactured in Cape Town.
“This week is METS, which is the biggest yachting trade show in Holland. Southern Ropes will be there and we will be launching our new product, DK100 fibre sold as GP12. This is a new black UHMwPE fibre that we all use for lashings and core to our sheets, halyards and control lines. The fibre is 100% Black, this has not been done before, but it is in-house treated with a unique Thermofixation process and is Solution dyed, not coated. There is no post-manufacture pigmentation and it has Superior UV resistance and therefore will not fade. The longevity of the rope has therefore increased.
“I wish I could be there to help launch this exciting new product especially as I can see first-hand the necessity for it as I sail across the ocean. The UV is eating into our lashings. The coating is coming off the rope and causing it to change colour and fade, looking very worn rather quickly. The DK100 will not do this, and will be easy to splice too. Please don’t hesitate to visit our stand in hall 1 at METS this week or contact me in December if you would like to know more.
“Today we head inshore along the coast of Brazil. We are 3-sail reaching which is allowing me to have time to repair and maintain some of our important lashings on board.
“The tight pack of 4 continue their speed game fighting for position. 4 boats all within 60nm of each other after 4000nm of sailing. Class 40 is a wonderful rule with so many different designs, yet allowing us to sail so closely together. Who will win the drag race is the big question? We have 1500nm to go to the finish and there is a light section of Cabo Frio predicted. Perhaps this will play the game out or maybe it will be how long will our repaired spinnaker will last. Pip put the final stitches in the kite today!
“We need to keep pushing as we sail down the Brazilian coast. Today has been the first day that we have seen traffic on the ocean for many days. Ships, fishing boats and fishing buoys – so we are going to have to keep a good watch as we keep pushing the boat”.
Of course, work onboard continues and when they’re not on deck helming or below dealing with the latest weather forecasts, there is always that big pink spinnaker…… as Pip commented yesterday afternoon:
“At lunch time today I put the final stitch into our huge pink spinnaker. At an estimation I have completed 43 metres of stitching to make this repair, which include sticking and sewing along the tear lines and then covering this with sticky Dacron and sewing the edges of the Dacron. It is not going to be pretty when it goes up, some sort of hideous Halloween mask gone wrong in pink. But all hopes are pinned on it staying together and getting us to the end of the race. In total I have spent over 16 hours fixing this spinnaker while Pips has been in charge of sailing the boat. At least if we use it, and it blows up, we can say we did everything to get this show back on the road. The haggard ends of my fingers from pushing and pulling the needle through the material are testament to this effort.
“The drag race meanwhile continues down the Brazilian coast and today fortune does not appear to be on our side as we are about 20 miles further inshore than the rest of the pack, and no matter what we do, we have been a knot slower than them all day. I guess we just have less wind. Like this the miles are creeping off our lead and we are being forced to play it out and hope things will get better soon.
“We can’t quite see the coast, but the waters around us are starting to fill up with other vessels. From now on we will have to be extra vigilant for the Brazilian fishing boats one of which I had to dodge earlier today.
“Our routing is currently showing the wind finally freeing us up enough to use the spinnaker at some point later this afternoon or this evening. This will be a tricky transition for us and we need to set some parameters about how far we are going to push the hideous pink creation which will be tough. What we really want to do is stay in the game and to do that we need to use the sail in the same way everyone else around us will be using theirs – it will be hard to hold off hoisting if conditions are marginal and we know it will make a difference.
“So what is the strategy to be? Sensible sailing and hope for the best or go for broke with the risk of failing in a bright pink blaze of glory…. that decision hasn’t been officially made yet, but as I feel the pain through the ends of my fingers with every keyboard stroke I know which way I am leaning”.
“Out front, all eyes are on the leaders as they sail past Rio in the dark. ‘Le Conservateur’ still leads, but has opted to gybe inshore and is obviously trying to make the best possible use of the light breeze inshore, ‘V and B’ has opted to stay offshore, looking for the forecast SE shift which is expected in the next few hours. While this means sailing more miles, it might well be the better tactical move as more breeze, a little further aft will make for faster sailing, but will it be enough?
“With just over 450nm left, the next two days are going to be tough and you can expect both boats to cross the line very close together and with two very tired crews…”