Marco Nannini on the GOR: Turning the corner

Marco Nannini on the GOR: Turning the corner

Monday April 16 2012 Author: Marco Nannini Location: none selected

The last few days have been, as predicted, a drag race towards the north-east corner of Brasil, all tactical decision had been played out earlier around the tricky corner near Rio de Janeiro where the wind tends to be always on the nose and there is a nasty counter current. Since then we've proceeded in a near perfect straight line to this next corner where we'll all "turn left" towards Charleston. The Celox virtual scoring gate is placed on this turning point which marks the beginning of the next phase of the race and we're quite pleased to be crossing in second place after the boys on Cessna who unfortunately have slipped from our reach and are further ahead. We've however succeeded in our intermediate goal of being first of the three first generation Akilarias in the race and kept the Dutch and South african teams behind us.

Getting here has been a little more involved than we had anticipated, the trade winds motorway was definitely not the smooth ride we expected. Every afternoon the sky would swell with clouds forming out of the damp hot air, each cloud approaching would bring stronger winds at first but a wind hole behind it with significant wind shifts making for tricky sail changes. We kept swapping between our furling solent and our furling gennaker. Normally when the gennaker is not in use it is taken down to avoid the risk of it coming unfurled and damaged but we figured we needed to be agile and in the ever changing conditions so we kept it up all the time and were able to rapidly go from one head sail to the other and keep creeping forward during the phases of variable winds and until the air cleared out again giving again regular winds. Perhaps it has nothing to do with skill and we were just luckier than our followers in finding fewer "potholes" along our road and are very happy with the advantage of nearly 100 miles we were able to accumulate in this stretch of water over our sparring partners on Phesheya.

Last night we brought out our masthead spinnaker which has a beautiful cut and can be sailed at a very hot angle, I am so glad we repaired it in Punta del Este, it's such a beautiful sail which kept us going very nicely all day. I believe we're the only boat in the race that is still sailing with the same 9 sails we set off with in Palma, apart from a few inevitable accidents with the spinnakers subsequently repaired along the way, the sail choice has been perfect, we had very reliable sails in the strong winds and some killer sails for the light airs, I really have to thank Roberto Westermann, personal friend and sailmaker at Di-Tech in Lavagna, Italy, who put so much thought into this selection building a top choice of sails.

As we turned the corner the ever adverse current of last week has given way to a pleasantly favourable current adding over half a knot to our speed since a few hours ago, i think we're on the edges of the Guyana current which should help us on our way to Charleston giving back some of the miles stolen by the Brasil current.

Life on board, as a consequence of the recent weather pattern, has gone daily from tedious to fastidious - tedious in the regular winds and extremely frustrating during the tricky rain clouds wind shifts. The heat is increasing and i found myself steering in my pants and t-shirt during the rain showers, the air cools down somewhat and after a while exposed to wind and rain can experience a glimpse of that feeling of "cold" that you keep dreaming of the rest of the time, my feet are swelling as a result of the heat, i had experienced the same problem during leg one but luckily this time it does not seem to be nearly as bad. When i left Punta del Este my abdominal area was also quite swallen, I feared a problem with water retention but after a consultation with my doctor he confirmed it was a case of beer, burger and pizza retention which should be cured by the far less appealing freeze dried food diet of recent.

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