Time to leave
After such a quick first leg (and with a fixed start date for leg two) we have ended up hanging around in Lanzarote for two weeks. Frustratingly we have now been involved in this race for five weeks and only had one week of sailing. I guess I won’t be complaining about the lack of time on the water after the next leg though...
The extended stopover has been put to good use by many of the skippers who had serious damage. Sail repairs were fairly common, especially spinnakers. There were also guys fixing rigs, spreaders, rudders, autopilot...pretty much everything really!
I was fortunate enough, or maybe careful enough to only have one repair to do. I had one of those nightmare scenarios, where I got stuck with my 96sqm masthead kite up and, with no safe way of dropping it, was just holding on. Unfortunately the breeze built rapidly. Eventually in over 20 knots (with the kite designed for a maximum of 10) it split all the way along a seam in the middle and then flapped itself close to death.
In any normal circumstance this kite would have ended up in the bin. However, under race rules, you must take a 24 hour penalty if you replace sails. Luckily Paul Kowalczyk was out in Lanzarote to see the finish and offered to take it back to Quantum UK. John Parker and his team worked through the night - several times - to put it back together. It’s a fantastic repair that you struggle to even see. Then Geoff Sinton was called into action to act as courier as local customs are notoriously difficult in Lanzarote!
Many thanks to all the Suffolk boys once again!!
Clemency Williams has been preparing my weather brief and it looks like the first few days will be crucial. Instead of the typical NE trade winds, we have a low to negotiate first which will probably result in us having some SW’s, the first upwind work of the race. Avoiding the pirates off the west coast of Africa may become part of the game as well.
After negotiating this first weather system we will drop into the trades. These will take us south down to the doldrums. With no information available to us as to the optimum position to cross, this part of the race is a lottery and could well cause a big shake up in the fleet.
After we escape the clutches of the doldrums then we should hit the southern hemisphere trades, this time from the south east. This should see us have a fast fetch to the finish. Two years ago these trades were a lot further South than expected. The fleet had to sail upwind for the last thousand miles, not an ideal scenario!
The start of the first leg had all the glitz and glamour, but there was always a feeling in the back if my mind that the race doesn’t really get going, until we leave Lanzarote. So I guess this is it. Once again I am reminding myself to not get carried away too early on. To win it you have to be in it and to finish first, first you must finish. All the usual clichés which are so true.