From Bouwe Bekking straight to you; just as Brunel makes their move for the lead; more here, and Stefan Coppers photo.
It is not the door bell who is ringing, but the boys of Dongfeng have been knocking now for 18 days in a row on our boat. The sun comes up and there they are again in full glory. It seems like our navigators have exactly the same way of approaching this leg. One crucial point was just about 1 degree north of the equator. Capey, our navigator woke me: “hey listen, a small low is developing just northwest of us, I think we should crack 30 degrees down.” He had my full attention, an all of a sudden 30 degree course change doesn’t happen very often, especially not that it didn’t appear in any of the other predictions from previous days. But the GFS ( low res model) and the EC ( hi res model) were actually for the first time completely in line. A quick chat going through the scenarios and the order was given to come 30 degrees down, meaning a sail change in the mean time.
A couple of minutes later, same procedure on Dongfeng, pffff, a bit of a relieve and pressure of our shoulders. This was the option to buffalo girl the arabs, who had slowly been pushing more and more west. The more easterly route predicted clearly an easier transition into the NE Monsoon, and within 30 hours we knew if it would pay off. The transition was painfull, first of all we looked glamorous, making an 8 mile gain in 45 minutes on the chinese by
riding the edge of a cloud in pouring rain. But that same cloud became our worst nightmare, when it overtook us. We parked. Two hours laters an 8 mile lead had evaporated and worse, turned into a deficit of 8 miles. Capey and myself looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, this shit can happen.
The transition indeed worked better for us than the arabs in the west. Sometimes when you are leading for a while you think you have a golden D..and are invincible and nothing can go wrong, but it can bite you sometimes as well. Over the last two days, slowly but surely we have been grinding the Chinese back, the big code is up and playing with staysails. A good point is: we are a faster than in leg 1 in these conditions and learned heaps. Also nice to be in the lead again, always good for the moral. We start actually practicing throwing dices, as we will need to throw heaps of double 6’s, that will bring us good luck once in the strait of Hormuz. It will be pure casino, hopefully the dingdong bell will sound for us hitting the jackpot.