Marco Nannini on the GOR: Crash gybe

Marco Nannini on the GOR: Crash gybe

Tuesday December 27 2011 Author: Marco Nannini Location: none selected

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.

Add a comment - Members log in

You can ...

Ads from Marco Nannini