The cat is purring

Brian Thompson reports from on board Maiden II, drawing level with the record again

Friday April 19th 2002, Author: Maiden, Location: Transoceanic
End of Day 8

Distance to finish: 1045nm
Distance since start: 2866nm
Boatspeed Average to finish needed: 16.77kts
Boatspeed Average since start: 14.92kts
Hours to finish: 62.3hrs approx
Hours to start: 192hrs
Average daily miles since start: 358.25nm
Club Med position end Day 8: 22 15N 55 40W
Maiden Two position end day 8: 24 26N 55 37W
Miles behind Club Med: 0-2nm
Current COG: 285T
Current SOG: 18kts
Sea temperature: 23C
Wind: 060T at 15-18kts

Navigator's Report - Adrienne Cahalan

It only requires a 20 degree wind shift and we are back in the hunt. As the high situated north of us continues to give us a decrease in wind speed as we go on the starboard gybe, we are still trying to stay in maximum pressure in order to maintain a 16.7kts average toward the mark.

The wind is forecast to stay in the East at 15kts, with local shifts. We are very happy to have caught up to be even with Club Med at the end of Day 8 so the race starts all over again.

News from the Crew - Brian Thompson

All well on Maiden Two. We are rolling down the miles as I write this at dawn, 11 UK time, and we are going to be level with Club Med's actual position in an hour when we are both at the beginning of Day 8.

The chart we are using is the same one they used and the plots are starting to match up as we gybe downwind for the finish 1050 miles away. Looks like they had exactly the same easterly wind that we have. We just have to hope that our wind two years later is a little stronger and we are driving with that little bit more concentration.

They were already a day and a half ahead of the old Jet Services record at this point while we are straining for every last knot as we try to pull ahead of our invisible rival - if rival is the correct word for your own boat..

We have had great conditions these last few days, picture perfect downwind sailing in light trade winds, pushing the boat for hour after hour with the gennaker driving us downwind. Gybing on every shift with practised ease, the helmsmen pushing the sail to its maximum apparent wind speed, and Adrienne adjusting our position on the racetrack with skill and experience.

The rest of us check the sail trim, keep the boat organised and well maintained and just enjoy the ride, waiting for our turn to get behind the wheel to keep the boat in its groove..

But just when you think everything is going smoothly these maxi-cats can stop purring and give you a swift right we found out at midnight last night. We had gybed onto starboard as we approached a big squall and were running alongside it when we got a big header taking us right into it, the wind started to die as we got closer so we decided to hoist the yankee - a hanked on headsail, to reach along the cloud and find a gap to shoot through.

That's when things went pear shaped, as we eased the gennaker in 5 knots of wind the leeward sheet shook itself under one of the handles of our aft grinding pedestal and casually ripped it off its base - okay pretty annoying but we can repair it later with no loss of time. Then we go to hoist the Yankee and in all the excitement we don't centre the mast rotation and just as we almost grind it to the top of the forestay the halyard slips off its sheave and jams in the mast. So we have a headsail jammed 3/4 of the way up the mast, hmmmm, nothing else for it but to send two people up the rig.

Regis slips into his harness and goes up the outside of the mast, whilst Fraser is sucked up into the mast base and up the inside of the tube and with a good deal of shouting up and down 120 feet the task of unhooking the halyard from the sail and freeing the halyard from the side of the mast is completed. Fraser has the hot and very claustrophobic job inside the carbon walls whilst Regis has to hang on to the pitching mast, and coming down the shroud with the halyard he turns into a a spinning top as he is flung around the stay. We picked up a few phrases of exquisite French on his way down. Good job to both of them..

That done we hoist the yankee after nearly an hour, and as the squall dissipates, we find a gap and hoist the gennaker and creep through to the other side. It felt like we parked up for ever in that cloud but by a miraculous wind shift in the last few hours we are back in the game. Those hail marys that Adrienne's mum is doing for us must be getting heard in the right places..

So we are sailing again with Miki driving and the next task is to fix the pedestal ready for the other gybe. Guillermo with Sam and Ben removes it from the deck , whilst Christine and Stan get the boat building shed ready in the aft cabin. Once in the shop they set to work building a jig to hold it in place whilst they glue and laminate carbon on the damaged base. By the end of today it should all be back together and last night's fire drill will be a distant memory to be relived over some Mount Gay rum in Antigua..

So big smiles from all the crew as we catch Club Med and we suspect that Kev is smiling too despite being strapped to the speedo and with his 'Olivia Newton John: "Let's get Physical Headband" failing to keep the fur out of his eyes.


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