600 to go
Over the past 48 hours there has been an unusual lack of communication from Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli although the reason becomes clear when the British duo’s speed averages have been the highest in the fleet since early on Wednesday morning with 12 and 13 knots becoming standard as their Class 40 tore passed the Leeward Islands. “You could tell by the smiles on our faces that we have had a good night!” reported Salvesen late yesterday. “We have finally hit the Trade Winds proper and are enjoying the sort of sailing conditions that Beluga and Cabo de Hornos have been experiencing for the last week or so with 20 to 30 knots of wind with the small spinnaker up and flying along at up to 18.5 knots all night long.”
Tuesday, however, was a slow build up to the recent fast sailing. “Yesterday was however another day of intense frustration with more light and very variable winds trying to push us far too far east,” confirms Salvesen. “So we were sailing as deep as we dared to try and maintain course - but as we all know this ain't no way to go fast! At least it wasn't all conducted in baking hot sunshine!” With 1,160 miles to the Charleston finish line, Team Mowgli are keen to make haste northwards and avoid any light winds ahead. “The forecast - for what they appear to be worth in this part of the world - gives us another couple of days of this wind,” predicts the British skipper. “So the miles will fairly disappear underneath us, although there is some interesting looking weather ahead if we don't get our skates on, so watch this space.”
For Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on stricken Desafio Cabo de Hornos, the wait for following breeze continues as the Chilean duo head north with one rudder and the German fleet leaders stretch ahead, although Cubillos is content that the gains by Beluga Racer are still under control as Herrmann and Oehme add just over ten miles to their lead over the Chilean boat in the past 24 hours. “Our projection that the Germans were going to be 260 miles ahead of us by this stage has not happened, which is very good,” he says confidently as the deficit reaches 159 miles. “But what it is not very good is that the wind is not turning southerly as the meteorologists predicted. Therefore, the option to flatten the boat and use a spinnaker is delayed.” Currently, the Chileans are forced to race with reduced sail in breeze slightly forward of the beam as any overpowering will heel the boat and lift the single remaining windward rudder clear of the water causing Desafio Cabo de Hornos to round up and broach.
However, Cubillos and Muñoz are still optimistic that their favoured wind angle will arrive. “Around Bermuda the breeze might drop and finally change to following wind,” explains the Chilean skipper. “But I am a little sceptical with the meteorological information and we can’t be certain this will happen.” Until the breeze shifts, options are limited on Desafio Cabo de Hornos. “There is not much we can really do other than make the best speed possible,” admits Cubillos. “The fact that we need a rudder is already anecdotal, but we have learnt to sail with one and we’re doing pretty well.” Although the present circumstances are far from perfect, the future looks bright for the Chilean team. “A replacement rudder is going to be sent from France to Charleston and also a new spinnaker has been donated by an enthusiastic supporter who has asked specifically to remain anonymous,” Cubillos reveals. “Thus, it is right that we should publicly thank this generous, enthusiastic and anonymous donor.”