Mike Golding: Match racing le Cam

Mike Golding: Match racing le Cam

Tuesday January 22 2013 Author: Mike Golding Gamesa Location: none selected

Even at this stage of the race, when our bodies are tired and our supplies low, when everyone seems to agree is the worst South Atlantic ever, the competitive pressure between boats remains undiminished. Jean has called it a war against the weather and of course each other – it seems a fair description…

This afternoon, dosing at the nav station in a sweltering 37 degrees, I wake in a pool of sweat to see that I am off course to the west as the wind has headed for the past 15mins. Given my position in relation to Jean I know this is just the opportunity Synerciel needs to attack my position. To defend, I must quickly manoeuvre so that, if he has tacked, our relative positions in the wind are maintained. I must, for now, keep this small lateral (east) separation as it is my chance to grab 5th position.

Annoyed and cursing myself I leap to begin emptying ballast before going on deck and scanning the horizon for the enemy – has he caught me napping, has he stolen the advantage. This is stupid as he is more than 60 miles away but still I look…

Without further delay I hurl myself into preparing for the manoeuvre, runners, traveller, sheets etc are all made ready then a quick crawl around in the furnace below, physically move the 400kg stack and check the water ballast has emptied from the starboard side. Then the tack itself, keel over, daggerboard up, reset sheets etc – lots of mindless grinding of winches before heading back into the furnace to load new ballast on port… all the while I am checking the VMG , the speed towards my next waypoint. Early signs, unfortunately, are not good. Still, finally, I settle onto Port, but it’s really not the result I was hoping for after all that effort. Looking at the data logging the shift lasted just 20 mins and unfortunately I missed the best of it and tacked just as the shift dissipated.

My emotional brain tells me that Jean will have pounced on the shift and has gained some benefit, I am annoyed at this point so I swear a bit - $%^(+++, RTIOO etc

My more logical brain tells me that he never got the same shift, it was just local.

Whatever, there is now no choice, I must now, quickly, undo all I have done and get back onto Starboard before reflecting on the possible damage in the next poll at 1900z.

I suppose, trying to be positive, I was reactive – which all things considered is pretty good at this stage, and regardless, after the next poll, the slate will be cleaned once more and we can begin afresh: the next 'poll to poll' battle in our Vendee Globe war to Les Sables d'Olonne.

In reality it’s ridiculous to compare sailing with war, no 'one' is trying to kill us here, but for life long competitors - even these small tasters of victory are as sweet or as bitter as those gained in more serious conflict.

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