On track...

Maiden II update...

Saturday April 13th 2002, Author: Mark Bullingham, Location: Transoceanic
Forty eight hours after leaving Cadiz, Maiden II is on course to break the Route of Discovery transatlantic record.

The 110ft maxi-catamaran has averaged 15.29 knots, which is 0.6 knots above the average speed required to break the record of 10 days 14 hours 53 minutes and 44 seconds. Current weather conditions are 20 knots from NNE direction, with the boat positioned 30 miles due south of Grand Canaria.

Latest email from Paul Larsen on board Maiden II

The east to west Atlantic record course requires that we sail between two of the Canary islands so as to follow Columbus' famous route of discovery. This tends to present the crew and navigators with a little minefield as the mountainous islands have quite an effect upon the prevailing weather conditions.

It always makes you nervous when approaching these islands in light winds with alot of sail up. The wind usually increases as it funnels between the peaks which leads to the boat being overpowered and to deal with this we need alot of room.....especially at thirty knots.

As we approached we had some 'miles in the bank' which we had to payback as we zig zagged our way through. Once supposedly clear (I'll harp on that one later) we hardened up and pointed the big blue bows of Maiden II towards the caribbean. The boat was optimised for the flat reaching conditions and it wasn't long until Fraser Brown, member of the dirty, filthy kiwi connection, had the boat wound up over thirty knots.

For a good two hours we literally flew along in ideal conditions with fingers on the trigger as the boat peaked at 36.8 knots straight down the rhum line like a horse to the barn. Hell, we even started polling for a 24 hour record run as things were looking that good. It's funny how stupid songs are recalled at moments such as this. The one that came to my mind as the windward hull lifted skywards into sweet, dry silence but for the rush of air was 'Aint no stopping us now' by god knows who(or maybe he's forgotten too)....... but then,... well then we, ah, well we stopped basically.

One of the pitfalls of the Canaries is that they affect the wind downstream for much further than you would expect. Adrienne, I can't make eye contact anymore, Cahalan had allowed thirty miles as a gap between us and the mountains but unfortunately we still hit the parking lot. Hero's to Zero's as shown on the log display. Well we wallowed around with Regis Brule atop the mast searching for the closest patch of wind. Yup, there we sat for two hours trying every light wind sail configuration literally under the sun as the layers of Henri Lloyd thermals grew in a pile under the cuddy.

Due to the wallowing motion induced by the seastate Maiden II still manages to propell herself along at 2 knots as the sails fanned from side to side. Eventually we clawed our way out using specialist sails and heading 90 degrees from our course. Even as I sit below and write this I can hear the crew running about and the whirring of winches as we seek to get back on course and up to speed. 50 hours into our record attempt this sees our average drop just below that which is required. Ouch. Hopefully the up coming tradewinds will work their magic and see us through to the finish.

Happenings on the crew front.

A heinous odor has overcome the starboard hull and the origin of its source is being narrowed down. Socks, but not as we know them, appear to be the culprit...... but who will own up to them?

This is Paul Larsen, from the sugar and spice Oz connection, signing off.

p.s. boatspeed's back up on course.

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