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punishing

The latest from 40 Degrees in the TJV. They are now third amongst the 40’s.

The three successive depressions we just punched through each were special in just their own way.The first pretty standard,with 50kt gusts and huge waves.Then the second depression,oh well this one decided to be so stupid windy it was capable of laying our boat on it’s side with nothing but a storm jib up. Our wind instrument at that point was still attached to the rig but swiveling about in the breeze so wasn’t terribly accurate, we figure periods of sustained winds of about 60kts.Then the last depression had a particular surprise, not just 50+kt winds but waves so confused that hand steering was required 100% of the time to prevent the boat from just getting pounded apart .Although the mighty Owen Clarke Design “40 Degrees” has proven herself time and again and at this point I can’t imagine her getting pounded apart in any conditions.

We were the only class 40 to take the punishing northern route straight into all three of the depressions. After questioning ourselves repeatedly we moved up to third in the rankings and put close to 100 miles on some of the further back boats in the 24 hours since breaking through the final low. We feel really good about having made it through without any major harm to boat or crew and to be now contending for a podium spot in the Transat Jacques Vabre. For a last minute team with little training and a whole series of issues that left us not sure if we would actually take the start until a week before the day we are ecstatic to be where we are now and ready to keep pushing hard.

After coming out of days of hand steering while getting pummeled by massive breaking waves and driving rain it has been so nice to have a day of reaching in 20-25kts of breeze. We are currently carrying the solent and 1 reef in the main and have been able to clean and organize ourselves and the boat in a seriously needed way. Just as a point of comparison we spent long stretches of the last few days with nothing up besides a reefed staysail and just the head of the main sticking out of the stackpack. These conditions involved doing 1 hour on 1 hour off rotations at the helm and having just enough time to drink water,navigate and eat. I don’t think either of us slept much that can count in the last three days or so. Now we settle back into the more reasonable rhythm of two hour watches with the pilot capable of driving quite a bit. You can even contemplate going on deck to look around quickly without having to be fully kitted out in foul weather gear.

We have another day or so of reaching and after that the foreseeable future looks like downwind with a big kite up. It will be a welcome reward after beating our way out of the grasps of North Atlantic storms in November. There are still thousands of miles left to race and no way to know what will happen but it sure feels good to be in the hunt at this stage in the game.

40 Degrees out…