By Matthew Thomas
It’s always a nerve-racking time waiting for the wind to arrive, especially when you have down loaded weather files and committed to sailing away from your nearest competitor because the data you have suggests you will be better off further to the west.
With modern communications and accurate tracking of your competitors available via the internet, you can instantly see that your decision has let your competitor sail past you. Well, this morning it’s clear that their move has paid off as “The Pips” are now 7nm miles ahead of ‘Groupe Setin’ as they both battle to cross the high pressure ridge that has little or no wind.
Clearly they have been battling with downloading weather information and internet access as was reported last night:
“Life is comfortable onboard Concise 2 today; we haven’t had to do one single headsail change all day and the consistent conditions have allowed us to bank some decent sleep and recharge our batteries again, both of us sleeping for the first time in a bunk without foulies on, though Pip woke up with a sore back and so has gone back to sleeping on a bean bag on the floor again.
“The biggest frustration for us is around the lack of data we are able to receive on the boat so it has been a difficult 24 hours making decisions about which way to go. Due to a problem with our computer we are not currently able to receive weather information other than grib files, we have no access to satellite imagery or to synoptic charts so are lining up to face the light winds and high pressure ahead of us using grib files only, which are never the best way to understand high pressure systems.
“Last night we sat down and discussed our strategy and how we would cope with the light winds ahead of us, and both decided to look for a route to the west of the rhum line to take us through. With that decision we spent the rest of the night heading west under gennicker and full main. We have made initial losses against the fleet while making this move, which is always gut wrenching, but are holding out that this was the right choice which won’t lead us straight into a vacuos hole of high pressure. Every grib file that now comes in seems to be different, some promising hope for the east and some for the middle. It’s frustrating and easy to get sucked into staring at the computer and trying to figure it out, but we have made a tactical decision and now we need to just concentrate on sailing fast to see if it pays off.
“The conditions at the moment are pretty stable and today looked like the first typical Atlantics scene, starting with a warm pink glow of a sunrise, then consistent blue skies and fluffy white cumulus through the day. And we have just sailed through a beautiful orange sunset. We are now preparing for the night ahead, fully expecting some tough times and light shifty breeze, but hopefully not another night of despair”.
Clearly their hard work during the night has paid off!
Now through the doldrums, ‘Macif’ is leading ‘Sodebo Ultim’ by 45nm as the two maxi tri’s start to gather speed and head towards Recife at over 20 knots.
Behind them, and still in the clutches of the doldrums, the IMOCA 60’s are having a fierce battle with the ‘Pack of Three’ match racing each other with a separation of under 10nm. ‘Banque Populaire VIII still leads, but in these very light/no wind conditions, her foils offer no extra assistance and might even be adding drag as she desperately tries to fend off ‘PRB’.
‘FenêtréA Prysmian’ who has so far sailed an incident free race is streaking away in the Multi50 class and just about to enter the doldrums. ‘Arkema’ has completed her pit stop, but now trails by just over 260nm. Of course, with they’ll be hoping for a quick passage through the doldrums that might allow them to regain some of the lost miles.
‘Le Conservateur’ has managed to break away from the rest of the Class40’s and is now streaking towards the doldrums at 10 knots, 145 miles ahead of the next Class40 and 440nm ahead of Phillippa and Pip.