TJV Day 25. Slip Sliding Away, the Miles Tick Off Toward the Finish…

Class 40 winners - Yannick & Pierre.

Class 40 winners – Yannick & Pierre.

'V and B' - 2nd in Class 40.

‘V and B’ – 2nd in Class 40.

Pink LAdyby Matthew Thomas

Sailing at night with a good breeze and a following sea is one of the great joys of ocean racing, but often there are surprises in the dark.

“The sea is black with the milky way overhead and big black clouds on the horizon while the pink kite sails us on. I am driving and trying my utmost best to make the boat sail down the messy sea while the boat wobbles in the breeze that is trying to die down as dawn approaches.

“Suddenly I got a warm splat on my hand and then next to me on the sail lying on the deck. I jumped and it started to smell very fishy. It was not a flying fish, but a bird that had come to say hello. After several attempts the bird landed on the spreader. I think it was a Noddy bird, they love to sit on boats at night time and enjoy the ride.

“We haven’t seen much wild life recently at all except for the flying fish and some birds when we sailed past Fernando de Noronha 3 days ago. Fernando de Noronha is a group of rocks off the bulge of South America. This was the first mark of the course for the Global Ocean Race. I can’t believe that it was 4 years ago that we sailed around those rocks and headed to Cape Town for the first stop over. Thankfully this time we are going to be stopping in Brazil on the TJV.

“Later today we will have less than a 1000nm to the finish in Itajaï. This is going to be another mile stone for this race. Our bodies are beginning to take their toll now. My hands are peeling as the skin sheds off in layers, our bums hurt from being salty for days on end, and the sun is beginning to get the best of us. It is hot now and its tricky to eat enough to keep ourselves going. We still have a fair way to go so we must keep sleeping, eating and maintaining ‘Concise 2′.

“Yesterday morning as the sun rose I sailed under a big black cloud. I was not sure what it was going to do, but there was a shift and the wind increased to 22 knots. Almost instantly we were flying. Gennaker, stay sail and full main stacked aft and with no ballast we took off. This is the most fun I have had all race. We were sailing at a true wind angle of 110 and doing 14 knots and surfing faster, jumping from one wave to the next. The wind increased and stayed with us all morning.

“In the afternoon we flew the small spinnaker and then it was time to get our pink spinnaker out again. Pip had sown it back together and we just held our breaths as we opened up the sock. There it was all in one piece. Pip had done a great job! We were a bit nervous last night of blowing it up so went to the gennaker for a while. Unfortunately we lost some valuable miles here as a green mast head light followed us for ages, and when the sun rose we thought that it may be a Class 40. On the position report we have noted that it is ‘Group Setin’. 4400nm of sailing and we can still see our competitors. What an amazing race this race and Class is. The pink spinnaker has been back up since well before sunrise.

“We thought that we may finish today when we loaded the boat, 25 days at sea. We were wrong as we are still out here. We loaded 25 days of food, water, gas, diesel and all the essential items. As we have been doing lots of driving our diesel supply is going to be tight, but just fine. Food and water we have lots of left, but we are a bit short on gas. We have one bottle left in the spares bag so we have been rationing tea and cooking together.

“We are pushing hard as we have ‘Setin’ and ‘SNBSN’ so close to us. We have to be careful with our sail choices and keep our pink spinnaker intact all the way to the finish line.”

Here is a poem my Mum wrote for us a few days ago:
Did you stop to think
When the colour pink
Made you go crazy
But you weren’t lazy
When it needed a stitch
What a pity, such a glitch
Stitch and glue, stitch and glue
You know who
Not so much fun
But had to be done
Let’s hope it holds
In between the folds
Until the race end
At Itajaï my friend
Will it pay
I cannot say
To creep up the shore
What’s in store?
Or out to sea
Or in the lee?
We wish you luck
The wind will suck
You along, along, along!”

It’s been a hard day of racing and while the tracker says the ‘Two Pips’ have slid back a position to 8th, they’re the inside boat and everything will change when they gybe back onto starboard and start to close the coast again, especially since the weather forecast is suggesting that the wind offshore will die as it starts to build closer in.

Still 750nm from Cabo Frio, the last major headland before they turn toward the finish off Italjaï, the ‘Two Pips’ are focussed on staying ahead of the two boats around them and making sure that they preserve their big ‘Pink Lady’, so lovingly stitched back together.

Yannick Besthaven and Pierre Brasseur are in, followed closely by the boys on ‘V and B’ just 1 hour and 54 minutes later. It’s been an epic battle to watch these teams fight it out, and it lasted right to the very end, especially around Cabo Frio where it looked like ‘V and B’ was closing the gap and seriously threatening ‘Le Consevateur’s’ lead.