More miles, but on track

Watch caption Dave Scully sends his update from PlayStation's Route of Discovery record

Thursday February 20th 2003, Author: Stuart 'SteveMcQueen' Radnofsk, Location: Transoceanic
Date Time DFS Elapsed Time Av speed Rel position Rel time DTF Speed required
19.02.03 19:00z 2210nm 115 hrs 19.22 kts + 457.71 nm + 23.8 hrs 2038nm 14.57 kts

Steve Fossett's maxi catamaran PlayStation is now approaching the half way mark in her attempt on Club Med's time for the Route of Discovery record between Cadiz and the Bahaman island of Salvador.

Currently the 125ft megacat is sailing at 21.8 knots on a course of 306deg in a 22 knots of ESE breeze. As the figure above show, she is currently ahead of Grant Dalton and Bruno Peyron's record.

Watch captain Dave Scully sums up their situation: "Pierre [Lasnier - their shoreside weather router] thinks we can begin to take a more northerly route - a little closer to the centre of the high - the question is can we hang on to the wind and cut the corner of the high?

Gybing south has become a frustrating feature of the last few days. As the high pressure to the north shifts and expands, we are constantly forced to run south in search of wind. This low loop around the high has added almost 500 nm to our route. The pressure is on the drivers and trimmers to get every yard of velocity made good out of the following breeze.

The weather is beautiful, 25 degrees C (77 F in old money), and now we've stopped going south (again) and are making some westing. We are still optimistic for this record.

In boating, as in many things, I suspect, when you start off badly, things get worse. That was yesterday. We had been waiting for a patch of light air to drop the main and replace the top batten, broken in a jibe earlier. This is a straightforward, but difficult and exhausting job, and a bit risky, as dropping the main downwind exposes the rest of the battens to uncommon stress.

We dragged the sail down, and assisted by Dave Thomson, got the new batten in. A stellar effort by the whole crew dragged the ton of sailcloth back up the mast, against the resistance of the following wind, and the friction of the lazy jacks. Then we set the blast. It did not unfurl properly, and the whole thing had to come down, be yarned into a tight tube, and rehoisted. Finally, as the sun was rising, we were able to furl the solent, trim the blast, and get up to speed again. An hour and a half of hard labor, going slow, and, as we were on a jibe south at the time, sailing away from the finish.

The limerick war is raging. Nic Leggatt fired the opening salvo, and the galley walls are rapidly being papered with complex verses employing this under-rated poetic discipline. Nic has a birthday on the 24th, and has expressed a desire to celebrate it on San Salvador.

Us too!

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