Frustration for Kingfisher2

As fickle breeze slows progress

Monday February 3rd 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Day 4 Position 24hr distance Av speed
Kingfisher2 24°02N 25°55W 374nm 15.58
Geronimo 20°04N 24°06W 501nm 20.88
Orange 21°35N 23°21W 472nm 19.67

Av/Max boat speed in last hour: 5.4 / 13.9 knots
Av/Max wind speed in last hour: 3.74 / 17.7 knots
Wind direction: 046
Distance to Equator: 1444nm (theorectical shortest distance)

As the figures above for the miles covered in the last 24 hours show, Kingfisher2 is suffering in the light conditions and her performance relative to Orange and Geronimo's pace has taken another knock. The map above shows clearly the reasons Ellen has opted to take a more westerly route - there is more pressure to the right of the race track although this involves sailing more miles.

At present after four days at sea Kingfisher2 is roughly 200 miles behind Geronimo's equivalent position.

Weatherwise the Azores high looks to be remaining stable for the next few days. Looking ahead the only anomaly appears to be the development of a shallow low over west Africa which will make for northerlies off the coast there, although Kingfisher2 will almost certainly be beyond the effect of this.

If the light conditions continue and they lose further miles - should Ellen turn back and start again when conditions are more favourable or should she continue in the hope that the miles can be made up further down the race track?

Ellen (courtesy of BT) sent this email:

"A frustrating night sitting out here looking hour after hour at the weather graphs which are certainly not always in our favour. The wind in the last few hours has averaged less than 10 knots and our boat speed average has been down to 13 knots over the last 3 hours. As I study the satellite pictures and GRIB files it seems almost unbelieveable that in all the miles of ocean around us - in fact the thousands of miles - that we should have to sail through this little bubble of light winds. The weather gods have left us with no choice, the light patch has descended upon us.

"Our progression over the last few days is now more precious to us than we were hoping it would have to be. We at least have a few hundred miles of easting to make before worrying too much about running too close into the african coast and the islands... As each little puff of wind presents itself to us its a little breath of hope. The sounds of the guys talking through the intercom in the cockpit seem instantly happier, and the noise of the water rushing past our hull is like music to our ears.

"As I speak to Meeno [Schrader], our weather router, he always says that he listens first for the sound of the water running alongside the boat before he hears my questions or remarks. If the sound from the boat is akin to a heathy flowing mountain stream then things are generally OK. Now that noise is quieter....let's hope the following 24 hours are better!

"Inside the cabin I am now sitting in just one layer of thermals, and with the water temp at 22 degrees life is refreshingly more civilized than life over the last few days. It was a cold start to our recod attempt, but even colder over the months leading up to our trip working long hours on Kingfisher2 to get her ready for this testing voyage.

"I lost count of the mornings where her decks were covered with ice as we begun work at the old submarine base in the winter twilight. Like with so many of these projects there has been no lack of energy, enthusiasm and heartache gone into it's sucess...

Lets hope that over the next few hours the wind turns to be in our favour... There's still a very long way to go."

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