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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.

Posts Tagged ‘Emma Creighton’

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Emma and Dan’s Momentum Ocean Racing budget may not allow for a lot of multimedia content while they’re off at sea, but she’s become one of our favorite on-board writers and we love seeing an American face in the Class 40 crowd.  Here are the latest reports from leg 2 of the Les Sables-Azores-Les Sables race (her great leg 1 report is here):

Leg two of the Les Sables-Horta race started yesterday at 1702.   Well, actually, there was an AP up for awhile,and in the end I’m not sure when we actually started.   What I do know is that it was the first start I’ve done  in one of these offshore races in Europe that didn’t ave a stupid lap around the buoys.    We just put up kites and went for it.   Awesome!    Also, it was by far the best downwind start I’ve ever driven, and we were very happy with it.

The weather right now is a bit of a tightrope walk between the high pressure to our right, and a relative ‘low’ off to our left.   Further west= more wind,further east= less distance to the finish.   for now we’re pointed at Ireland, and probably will be for the next 2-3 days before we can turn towards France.

Our original plan for last night was to escape from the islands as far away from any land as possible, and then make our way NNE.   But weather is never what you think it’sgong to be, and the reality of last night was that there was a cloud extending North, and if you were under the cloud,you were happy.  If you sailed to the edge of the cloud to East, you got lifted 20 degrees and the breeze went from 12 to 6 knots.  No bueno.    So we ended up gybing with the fleet,making our way north.

This made for a mostly sleepless night, as we had numerous close crossings.   At one point,we were on starboard and were coming up to a port boat- Dan politely said ‘Starboard!’  To which the other boat replied ‘Protest!! Protest!! We’re coming from the right!!!’.   Umm…OK.    We avoided them, wondering what the heck that was all about, since it was someone we KNOW understands the rules..  big bully.

A few minutes later is was our turn to be on port, and not 100% sure I was crossing,I decided to go behind the starboard boat.   It’s very cool to press up and pass just behind another 40 in the dark,doing 12 knots. You get an glimpse of the cockpit lit by instrument displays, then their nav light illminates your sails,and then they’re gone.

Today we’ve been making up for lost sleep by napping aggressively.   Unfortunately our instruments went insane about 2 hours after the start, and we haven’t worked out the solution yet.   For some reason the course overground is correct (030), the true wind angle is correct(140), but the heading says 236 and the true wind direction says 65.  I’ll let you dothe math (it’s more than I can count on my fingers, so that’s me out), but the upshot is that something is wrong.   And this means the pilot can’t really drive.   So we’re taking turns napping for an hour,and then handstearing the rest of the time.

We just passed a really big whale, Dan saw a turtle earlier, and someone left a bottle of port on our boat right before the start.   We’ve decided to have sundowners every day until it’s gone, and generally take ourselves less seriously.    After our dismal performance in the last leg, we have absolutely nothing to prove, so are set on enjoying this next week.

July 18 Update:

We had a shit day and night yesterday.  The breeze was shifting 20 degrees wth every cloud, and between 14-22 knots.   We wanted to sail about 55 over ground to get ourselves to the shift anticipated tomorrow.   At that heading, sometimes we were well inside the zero, sometimes the solent.  The problem was that if we put up the zero, when the breeze built and went foreward, we would have been sailing at Greenland.  But then when the breeze went aft, we were under powered, and searching high for speed.

It sucked.   And we opted to stay with the solent,and by this mornings position report, it’s obvious that that was a stupid choice and we lost lots of miles because of it.

But we’re trying to make the best of it.    We have a solid 20 knots still, which is nicer than the forecasted 10-14.   We’re fully ballasted, charging along at 10-11 knots most  of the time.   We’re even heading a bit more east than the past few days,which is nice, but small consulation since we’re already north of Les Sables!

We had a few more whales cross in front of us this morning- there are tons!   And more big plastic junk, buoys, crates, etc.   We see so much of it, there must be so much more we dont see,and it’s amazing we haven’t hit any of it.

Some time tomorrow we’ll get to tack over and head towards France, it will be interesting to see what being on port feels like, it’s been awhile!

 

July 19th, 2013 by admin

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Emma Creighton gives us the download from a disappointing leg 1 of her and partner Dan Dytch’s Les Sables – Horta – Les Sables Race in their new Class 40, Momentum Ocean Racing.  Track them here.  And follow Emma’s fun Facebook page here.

We’d stayed too far north at Finistere, so were already behind.   Rather than just following the rest, we took a bit of a gamble and went south afterwards.  Our weather forecasts showed more wind down there later on, plus a big left shift.     Neither of those things really happened, so by the time we got to the islands, we were still holding down 12th or 13th place, and had lost even more on the leaders.  Not great, but we knew where we’d gone wrong, and had come to terms with it.

The race committee sends out position reports to the fleet at 0600, 1000, 1400, and 1800, and at the 1800 report on the 9th, Seb, Jorg and Earwin were almost to Horta, with Halvard and Miranda and Red close behind.   Then there was a big cluster north of Terciera.

Well, that’s that, we thought.  They’ll all be there by the morning report, we won’t, we’ve caught back up a bit, but not enough.

But at 0600, we were coming in south of Terciera (we’d decided to go south of the islands days before, as part of our setting up to the south plan, and thinking there might be more breeze down there, cause the forecasts said there might be), and there was a big pack parked north of the Island, and no one had finished yet.

We knew not to get our hopes up, but we did anyway.   No matter what, we’d compressed back on the fleet a lot, and as the overall race score is a combination of time from both legs, we thought maybe if we got a bit closer in finish times, we’d have a shot at the next leg….

And then we parked South of Terciera for a few hours.

We finally got some breeze, and had a beautiful sunny upwind sail across to the gap between São GEorge and Pico, averaging 8 knots, feeling smug as we watched the AIS.   Strangely we could see boats 60 miles away (like Halvard and Miranda, Red, Jorg and Earwin), but closer boats that we could see with our eyes weren’t showing up on there.   Anyway, Seb finished at 10-something AM, and the other leaders were struggling, never doing more than 4 knots.

Earwin had gone between Pico and São George, and ended up third, so we had hopes that maybe, just maybe, we could get through there too, while the rest of the northern pack stayed parked north of São George…   but as soon as we got to the channel, the breeze shut off completely.   We had more than a knot of current against us, so slowly made our way to the cliffs of São George, where we found a little bit of breeze, and some pretty waterfalls.  These islands are amazingly beautiful, and sometimes I was able to appreciate that as we drifted along next to the black rocks and green cliffs, with dolphins all around.

At this point, the main battens started to be a problem.    In order to have any shape in the main at all, we have to have the top three battens tight enough that they don’t like light air jibes and tacks.   In the past, we’ve tried sending Dan up to kick them through, without a lot of success.   We’ve found more recently that the best method is to just drop the main, and then hoist it again, pushing the battens to the right side as it goes.   I’m just guessing, but I’d say we dropped and hoisted the main about 20 times in the final 24 hours.

Awesome.

At one point the breeze filled into the middle, and for a beautiful hour we were sailing absolutely in the right direction, with 5 knots of boat speed in 7 knots of wind, wing on wing with the code zero.

But that was only an hour.

As it started to get dark, we made our way to the Pico shoreline, figuring thereºd be land breeze there, and watched sadly as most of the other boats arrived to the north west tip of são george and started turning the corner to Horta.  By the time we finished short tacking up the Pico coast in the tiny band of 6 knots of land breeze, we knew we hadn’t caught anyone, and were just getting on with it.

We had a nice little sail across from Pico to Horta, code zero in 7 knots of wind and the sun coming up, and finally finished in 13th at 0611, half an hour behind 12th.

So. onward.    We start tomorrow for the return leg to Les Sables.   It looks like light air, upwind.   It should be a real nailbiter to watch on the tracker… Not.   But it could be itneresting to see who goes right to the Portuguese coast for more wind, and who stays closer to rhumb line.    We hope to have a better second leg, and maybe finish a bit closer to the front of the pack…we’ll just see what happens and try to create our own luck!  Thanks for checking in.  - Emma.

July 15th, 2013 by admin

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Former Minista and Past SCOTW Emma Creighton is as driven as they come; this year, she and partner Dan Dytch are making their assault on the Class 40 circuit with Momentum Racing.  This report from a couple of days ago comes from France’s sandy coast.

Well, here we are. Just a few more hours until we start the first leg of the Les Sables-Horta race. Dan and I have been sailing together as Momentum Ocean Racing for 3 months now, and I’d like to think we’ve come a long way.

In April, we got the boat (GBR 93, ex-Concise 2, an Akilaria RC2) just one week before the start of the Normandy Channel Race. Despite the fact that Dan and I have been prepping for ocean races in France for a few years, and are familiar with all the hurdles one must jump through, that was definitely cutting it a bit close. The stress levels were high, and we felt like we were just playing catch-up, rather than actually focusing on the preparations that we found important. Oh, or going sailing. Yeah, we didn’t get to do much of that before the start either.

Fast-forward a few months though, and our main concern this week was trying to get the Fleet up and running. The Iridium is working, it’s just painfully slow, and we were hoping to be able to get gribs in less than 10 minutes… but it’s just not meant to be.

Otherwise we’ve been chipping away at little jobs- supergluing velcro to a hatch that always comes open, adjusting batten tension, looking at weather, and passing our security checks.

Yesterday we had a prologue race scheduled. At the time of the morning skippers’ briefing, there was 20+ knots of breeze and rain. No surprise that most of the skippers voiced the opinion that a prologue, in those conditions, the day before a race start, was perhaps not the most awesome thing. The next 45 minutes consisted of lots of arguing (in French), while Dan and I played tic-tac-toe and kept lose tabs on the direction of the debate.

In the end, everyone agreed to still go out and go sailing (so that the race could get some publicity, TV coverage, photos, etc.), but that it was less of a race and more of a parade, and you could choose just how aggressive you wanted to be.

Our friend Phillipa Hutton-Squire (of the last Global Ocean Race) had driven down in the morning and came out with us for the afternoon. We set up the staysail, left the 3di solent on the dock, and headed off.

Outside the breakwaters, there was a pretty big swell, though not as much wind as earlier in the day. We still put a reef into the main, and headed off to find the start line. There were boats everywhere, and when we finally heard anything on the radio, it was a 30-second count-down to….? We didn’t know, but started watch timers anyway. Then a minute later, there was another count-down and some boats started, so we put up our staysail and headed off upwind.

The next hour was fun chaos- we joined into the parade, following the likes of Seb on GDF Suez who put up a kite and blasted off down the beach, while we winged out the staysail (which worked quite well, thank you very much, and we passed a few boats while doing it). Eventually most of the fleet turned around and started heading back towards the breakwater, so we fell in with them and went back to the dock. A race? No, not for most of us. A fun day on the water? Sure. And I think the organisers got the photos they wanted, everyone was happy and we got in early enough to have a shower and then go for a nice dinner with some friends.

Today we did some final weather prep. after the skippers meeting/ weather briefing (in French). My weather French is about as good as my food French, so I understand most of it, but there was still a lot of room for studying our own sources and discussing our options.

Our start is at 1902 French time, and for the next 24 hours it will be a race to the pressure increase north-east of Cape Finisterre. It will be fairly light, and the goal is to go south-ish of rhumbline, without getting too close to the coast of Spain.

As we get into the pressure increase overnight on the 5th-6th, we’ll be gybing down the N corner of Finisterre, while avoiding the Traffic Separation Scheme (a forbidden zone). Because of the Azores high, and the Iberian low, this acceleration zone of squished isobars is nearly always there, to varying degrees. Luckily for us, as we go through, it will probably be in the 25-30 knot range. Sometimes, it’s in the 45 knot range, which means you have to take more care about ducking in to get the pressure you need, and then getting out again before it’s more than you want. But 25-30 is a happy area of one reef and the fractional kite, fast without having to think about throttling back.

On the 6th the wind will decrease as we move away from N coast of Portugal, and we’ll aim for a waypoint NE of the Azores. The next few days will be tricky- we’ll have to cross a ridge of high pressure with very light wind… we’ll aim for the narrowest point, but as of right now, it looks like it will be very light all the way to the finish.

One routing has us finishing in 6 days something, another is more than 7… I booked a hotel in Horta for the night of the 10th, so fingers crossed we’ll be there by then, but it’s unlikely.

Please follow along on the race tracker, you can vote for your favorite team here (hint hint), and follow us on Facebook here. And you can vote for your favorite team here (hint hint).

The entire website for the race is in French, and I doubt there will be much in English coming out of the press either, so Dan and I will try to send updates to SA as often as possible. We’ll also be posting stuff on my Facebook page (Emma’s Sailing Exploits).

If you have any questions for Dan or me, send them to Clean and he’ll forward them to our satphone mail.  And thanks for the interest!

-Emma

 

July 6th, 2013 by admin

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