right stuff

Emma and Dan’s Momentum Ocean Racing budget may not allow for a lot of multimedia content while they’re off at sea, but she’s become one of our favorite on-board writers and we love seeing an American face in the Class 40 crowd.  Here are the latest reports from leg 2 of the Les Sables-Azores-Les Sables race (her great leg 1 report is here):

Leg two of the Les Sables-Horta race started yesterday at 1702.   Well, actually, there was an AP up for awhile,and in the end I’m not sure when we actually started.   What I do know is that it was the first start I’ve done  in one of these offshore races in Europe that didn’t ave a stupid lap around the buoys.    We just put up kites and went for it.   Awesome!    Also, it was by far the best downwind start I’ve ever driven, and we were very happy with it.

The weather right now is a bit of a tightrope walk between the high pressure to our right, and a relative ‘low’ off to our left.   Further west= more wind,further east= less distance to the finish.   for now we’re pointed at Ireland, and probably will be for the next 2-3 days before we can turn towards France.

Our original plan for last night was to escape from the islands as far away from any land as possible, and then make our way NNE.   But weather is never what you think it’sgong to be, and the reality of last night was that there was a cloud extending North, and if you were under the cloud,you were happy.  If you sailed to the edge of the cloud to East, you got lifted 20 degrees and the breeze went from 12 to 6 knots.  No bueno.    So we ended up gybing with the fleet,making our way north.

This made for a mostly sleepless night, as we had numerous close crossings.   At one point,we were on starboard and were coming up to a port boat- Dan politely said ‘Starboard!’  To which the other boat replied ‘Protest!! Protest!! We’re coming from the right!!!’.   Umm…OK.    We avoided them, wondering what the heck that was all about, since it was someone we KNOW understands the rules..  big bully.

A few minutes later is was our turn to be on port, and not 100% sure I was crossing,I decided to go behind the starboard boat.   It’s very cool to press up and pass just behind another 40 in the dark,doing 12 knots. You get an glimpse of the cockpit lit by instrument displays, then their nav light illminates your sails,and then they’re gone.

Today we’ve been making up for lost sleep by napping aggressively.   Unfortunately our instruments went insane about 2 hours after the start, and we haven’t worked out the solution yet.   For some reason the course overground is correct (030), the true wind angle is correct(140), but the heading says 236 and the true wind direction says 65.  I’ll let you dothe math (it’s more than I can count on my fingers, so that’s me out), but the upshot is that something is wrong.   And this means the pilot can’t really drive.   So we’re taking turns napping for an hour,and then handstearing the rest of the time.

We just passed a really big whale, Dan saw a turtle earlier, and someone left a bottle of port on our boat right before the start.   We’ve decided to have sundowners every day until it’s gone, and generally take ourselves less seriously.    After our dismal performance in the last leg, we have absolutely nothing to prove, so are set on enjoying this next week.

July 18 Update:

We had a shit day and night yesterday.  The breeze was shifting 20 degrees wth every cloud, and between 14-22 knots.   We wanted to sail about 55 over ground to get ourselves to the shift anticipated tomorrow.   At that heading, sometimes we were well inside the zero, sometimes the solent.  The problem was that if we put up the zero, when the breeze built and went foreward, we would have been sailing at Greenland.  But then when the breeze went aft, we were under powered, and searching high for speed.

It sucked.   And we opted to stay with the solent,and by this mornings position report, it’s obvious that that was a stupid choice and we lost lots of miles because of it.

But we’re trying to make the best of it.    We have a solid 20 knots still, which is nicer than the forecasted 10-14.   We’re fully ballasted, charging along at 10-11 knots most  of the time.   We’re even heading a bit more east than the past few days,which is nice, but small consulation since we’re already north of Les Sables!

We had a few more whales cross in front of us this morning- there are tons!   And more big plastic junk, buoys, crates, etc.   We see so much of it, there must be so much more we dont see,and it’s amazing we haven’t hit any of it.

Some time tomorrow we’ll get to tack over and head towards France, it will be interesting to see what being on port feels like, it’s been awhile!