Tris overhaul the monos

Transat Jacques Vabre leaders race south to the Doldrums

Wednesday November 12th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Conrad Humphreys updates us on progress on board Hellomoto at the front of the Open 50 fleet.

Position:                      24˚34.16 N, 20˚48.56' WSpeed:                         13.5 knots
Course:                       216˚
Miles to finish:           2502

Filled to the brim by the persistent breeze of the north-east trades, the distended bellies of Hellomoto's diaphanous (what the... ed) spinnakers continue their relentless pull south, their gleaming, red sled effortlessly carving a lone, bubbling white swathe through the gently undulating surface of an ocean deep blue under azure skies and blazing sunshine, accompanied only by sleek, smiling dolphins as they leap and cavort in an exuberant display of aquatic gymnastics before their small but captivated audience.

Yes folks - it's feel good time on board Hellomoto!!

But whatever the reality, it is true to say that the nightmares of last week do already seem a lifetime ago - of hand-steering through long, dark nights and never-ending gales, continually wet through and feeling sick from lack of sleep but still having to fight every inch of the way in their relentless, uphill battle. For now at least, co-skippers Conrad Humphreys and Paul Larsen deserve to celebrate their reward of idyllic conditions and a healthy, 140-mile lead in the Mono-50 class.

Not that there's any complacency onboard, as Paul explains. "We're enjoying the sunshine and the Trades, the opportunity to dry out all our gear and to just let our skin breathe again. But with the Doldrums still to come, we're pushing hard and keeping ourselves motivated by racing not only the 50s, but also the tail end 60s. And there's a third race that we're in too - to make it to Salvador for the awesome 'skippers invite' day out on 'Georges Island'. We only just made it last time but it was a day to remember and definitely not to be missed."

"We do have a secret weapon by the way," continues Paul. "We've not long done a thorough rig check and stock-take of provisions. All is well albeit not much water and too much food - we haven't even finished week one's supply, probably due to the fact we hardly ate for the first few days. But we did find that Conrad's wife, Vikki, had put in a bucketful of these flouro-bright, multi-coloured, gelatinous, sugar coated, sickly things designed to rid children of their teeth. They're called 'Sour Worms' and they're so sweet and artificial (munch, munch) that I just have to keep eating them to be sure (munch, munch) that they really are that bad. And it's not just me. Conrad's just put the ship on autopilot and run down to check his own recollection them. He must want to really make sure this time 'cos he just grabbed a bloody big handful!"

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