sustainable lead

sustainable lead

Brad Van Liew checks in from the South Atlantic, with a comfortable 120 NM lead over Gutek in the Velux 5 Oceans Race. The Velux folks have finally gotten their YouTube on, and you can see all the videos (low-res unfortunately) on their channel without dealing with the official Flash-filled site.  Here’s a fun reality show piece from Brad crossing the equator, and here’s the video he shot last week after being laid flat by a puff and chinese gybe.  And here’s the latest report:

I am trucking along in the southeast trades off the coast of Brazil making some miles, but it is not comfortable sailing as it is almost upwind  and very wet on deck.  Everything with the boat seems in order and the autopilots have now had enough mileage in all conditions that their never ending auto-learn software has the boat so wired that it makes me look average at steering.  It is really quite remarkable that the technology has come so far in the last few years.  The last time I did this race, the “cat’s meow” was being able to rely on true wind steer features while steering off the breeze.  At that time NKE, Raymarine and B&G were all in on the game and now have it pretty wired. The next challenge seems to be eliminating masthead movement through motion sensors and software, which makes for very steady wind data. The net result is that the wake in my current 20 knots of tight reach steering to wind looks like a pair of train tracks off the twin rudders. B&G seems to have it working.  We’ll see very soon how this all works in the “full noise” atmosphere of the southern ocean very soon!

It was a big day of excitement crossing the equator yesterday. The gratification of getting half way to Cape Town was brief, as I quickly realized there is still a long way to go.  I am really enjoying the boat and getting to know her traits.  I swear, she has more lifelike personality than any boat I have sailed. One very nice lifestyle factor is that I have not been running the engine to charge the batteries. It makes for really nice sailing! The wind pushing the boat along also spins my hydrogenerators, which have been making enough power so far to drive my electrical needs. 

Harnessing the power of the wind is how the world connected for centuries on sailing ships. It is my opinion that it will once again be the wave of sustainable living.  The Cape Wind project in New England, and founder Jim Gordon, get it and inevitably will prove this concept on a commercial scale. I think the tides in the U.S. reluctance to real change will set in.  That is my prediction and why I proudly support their cause. 

I think someone is also going to get very rich when they figure out how to harness these tradewinds I have been sailing in for essentially 10 days (see I am already beginning to force the Doldrums from my memory).  Another certainty is that our world will be a lot quieter, cooler and peaceful if my little pod here on the ocean is any indication, using only wind, sun and waves to power the 30,000 miles around the globe. It may be a small slice of what could happen on a global scale, limiting or eliminating the use of fossil fuels to power our modern day needs.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox.  But it’s true!