trades/no trades

on board

trades/no trades

Reports from Puma in the VOR and Financial Crisis in the GOR…

LOCATION: 170 miles E of Campos, Brazil 
WINDSPEED: 17.4 kts 
BOATSPEED: 19.7 kts 
HEADING: 038-degrees 

These are easy miles, these. Close reaching in flat water, making 20 knots of boat speed in 16 knots of wind, there is little discomfort other than the rising temperature. In these conditions it takes little effort to keep our Mar Mostro moving well through the water. The boat moves effortlessly and were it not for the occasional fast moving spray along the rail, it would be difficult appreciating how fast we’re actually going. Life on deck is quiet, calm, and dry, and you begin to see the potential in these boats when they’re hitting their stride. A puff hits and instead of heeling over, they accelerate rapidly: 16, 17, 18, 19…it doesn’t take much to make the numbers climb! 

It feels like we’ve only had a handful of these days over the length of this race, but the reward is always worth the wait. After all we’ve been through, some of the miles we’ve had to earn in utter misery, spent slamming upwind in gale force winds, slatting for days under clouds, slowing the boat down in Southern Ocean waves, it’s great watching progress pile up in relative comfort. We’re back to having Parmesan cheese with salami slices, beef jerky, and an ever-abundant collection of chocolate, but this time it’s all served on deck. 

Our middle-of-the-road position seems to have worked all right, too. We haven’t fallen into the inshore duo of CAMPER and Abu Dhabi who are sailing in stronger winds, and we haven’t lost much to Groupama and Telefónica, further offshore in less current. We’re still more or less in between the two packs and closing quickly on the ridge we need to pass to reach the trade winds. It’s around 100 miles until the front, and then another 50 or so to the ridge, and the first boat to push through both of those gets a much-wanted jump start home to the north. 


Just as I write a big rain cloud on the horizon has brought a sudden
windshift, this is the first we encounter since leaving the unstable airs
around the equator and unfortunately it probably signals the end of the
stable band of the trade winds… We have 1350 miles to the finish which
will bring more variety and hard work.

Ahead of us a patch of really light airs which wont fill for another two
days and which has already caused us to slow down and forced Cessna onto
the opposite gybe. This is of course all to Phesheya’s advantage, the
longer we’ll suffer in this air bubble the more miles they will catch up,
they have at least half a day longer to enjoy the stronger stable trade
winds but they will eventually get to lighter airs and should pay a high
price for the loss of their A2 big spinnaker.

My laptop charts still carry the log of all the races i did so far, i’m
using the same laptop since the 2009 OSTAR in fact and right now i can see
i’m crossing the track i followed on my way to Guadeloupe during the Route
du Rhum 2010. I didn’t do very well, just 27th out of 45 boats, i had
chosen the northern route but made a mistake around the Azores high which
saw me dropping from 10th to mid fleet in a day when i got stuck in light
airs. Interestingly Conrad Coleman was racing that race too, and we shared
the same strategy and the same mistake… we arrived in Guadeloupe
together, i could see him just behind me and i believe he crossed
the finish line just 6 minutes after me. He didn’t take it very well,
that’s why he was quite annoyed when I beat him again in leg 1 (by only 3
hours after 41 days of racing)… after that he has made no further
mistakes and scored a perfect first in both leg 2 and 3 and is set to win
again in this leg, so, hopefully he has forgiven me for the earlier
inconvenience i had caused.

I keep looking at the complex weather forecast ahead and i know i wont
find peace until we’re in Charleston, getting stuck in a wind hole is my
biggest worry since that poor performance in the Route du Rhum, we already
dropped 25 miles of our lead to Phesheya in just a day and our
160 miles advantage does not seem that great any more… we’re all here to
play till the end and i’m sure they’ll push hard seeing us slowing down… – Marco Nannini, Financial Crisis.