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this blows

on board

this blows

Marco Naninni isn’t having that much fun on the Global Ocean Race

So here we are in yet another 45 knots stinker, making excellent progress
under staysail and reefed main, occasionally surfing high teens. The front
came and went and we were left with that nasty situation where you have
massive seas and decreasing winds… increasing sail area would keep you
surfing on rails, but the waves are just too big and you have to wait…
the boat slows down and you surf some waves then skip a few then surf
another one.

I was in the cockpit, standing and watching the majestic waves, a bit
preoccupied as they were steeper than in the past days, although we are in
very deep waters well away from the Tasman shelf the sea is confused as
the usually uninterrupted flow of southern ocean water masses is
probably disturbed by the proximity of land and shallower waters to the
north. Some of the wave crests were breaking heavily. Just as i stood
there a massive wave with a very steep front lifts our stern, I could only
hold on and watch the boat speed surge past 23 knots in what felt like
vertical free fall. At the bottom of the wave the wind cut off almost
completely shadowed by the wall of water behind us, both headsail and
mainsail flapped powerless and we gybed gently but, almost immediately, as
the wave caught up and lifted the boat from trough to peak the full force
of 45 knots of wind slammed the mainsail across, the square top had
flipped to the other side of the runner and as we crashed gybed again,
this time very violently, I could only watch powerless three battens
held captive by the runner snap and one batten pocket rip open…

No time to cry, I woke up Hugo and we got to work, lowering the mainsail
completely and patiently removing the three broken battens, easier said
then done when they are broken in bits inside a pocket… we cut the spare
long battens we carried tied to the rail to measure and got the job done,
it must have taken us a good hour whilst the boat was still being tossed
around a lot…We now gybed north again as the wind is due to increase further still and
we want to get out of the worst yet to come in time… until the sea state
improves we decided to take the 3rd reef so that in the event of another
crash gybe hopefully less sail area will prevent further damage.

1250 miles to go and believe me, I really want to get there, this is
tiring and frustrating especially after 29 consecutive days at sea…

Another job on the repair list, new battens, spare battens, repairs to the
mainsail… I wish I could say it could have been easily prevented, we
always have to find the balance between speed and risk, for days we got
away with this sail configuration in similar conditions, today one wave
was enough to cause substantial damage in the space of a few seconds…

So, this is another occasion to thank profusely all those of you who have
made donations to our racing funds through www.marconannini.com/help, in
the past few days, I will get a full list of names and email addresses
once I get to Wellington to thank you individually but we have raised an
incredible 4225 pounds towards repairs, you have all been absolutely
wonderful, family, close friends as well as strangers who have been
following our progress over the weeks.

A special thank you to Mark Blomfield whose contribution was
particularly generous and came on the eve of Christmas and lifting the
spirits on board and the outlook for the Wellington stopover repairs.