Meat Head

Meat Head

Mike “Rail Meat” Hennessy brings us back into the cockpit of the Class 40 “Dragon” as he battles for the lead in the second part of the Bermuda 1-2.  Be sure to check out the epic thread, where Mike is posting updates like this one every 3 or 4 hours.

An object lesson in never talking about your good fortune. Just as I finished posting about my lack of repairs this leg… my reef one lock got all screwed up. The leech reef lines on this boat are on locks. Once you crank them on, they lock a shackle on the leech of the sail which allows you to release the load on the reef line. No compression in the boom, no extra weight for a clutch (X 3). They are a cool piece of kit that Jim Stone turned me on to, engineered and made by West Engineering in the UK. They are a bit tricky to set up, but once dialed in, they work great. Unless you are like me and figure out a way to screw it up so you can’t blow the lock when you want to. That took a bit to sort out.

The noon log showed some good news… we clocked 227 miles along the rhumb line in the preceding 23 hours and 45 minutes. That is a personal best for me, and for the boat. Factor in the cross track error and we probably actually covered about 250 to 260 miles – pretty cool stuff! But…We got headed around 8 am, with winds from about 210 magnetic or so and speeds of maybe 12 to 15 true. That started to push us East of the rhumb line, even when we were relatively close hauled. Which got Mark too thinking.

At this point, we are treating this as a two boat race with Cutlass. We had originally wanted to own the west on them, but they were able to take advantage of the spin problem we had early on yesterday to beat us to the west side. It took a fair amount of work, but we pulled even with them in the early hours of the morning, and are pacing them now. They still are west of us. The other major factor is this low, which the models seem to be reaching some agreement on what will happen with it over the next 48 hours. So, do we…

  1. Attempt to go west around the big fat low? Probably not – they have leverage on us to the west, going west will still expose you to the light air in the center of the low, and you will spend forever beating into Newport.
  2. Attempt to go straight up the rhumb? Probably not. We are already headed. Also, heading up the rhumb will give us several hours of sustained light winds tomorrow afternoon as the center of the low passes over us, then the same head winds on the other side.
  3. Attempt to go east, around the front side of the low? When Mark first mentioned it, I thought it was a flyer. But, it makes sense. This low is forecasted to move off shore Sunday afternoon, and and move slowly east. At our rate of speed, we can beat it to the east, and completely avoid the light winds. It also puts us in good position to tight haul into Newport against the North Easterlies. And… we have leverage over Cutlass since we are already 5 miles to the east of them. When we ran it in Expedition, it actually came out as the optimal route.

So east we go. It may add some significant mileage, but we will also maximize polars and still have a good shot of getting close to a 3 day trip out of this. It will be really interesting to see how it plays out versus Cutlass.