Class 40 update
The two remaining Class40s in the RORC Caribbean 600 finally found some breeze late on Thursday as Michael Boyd, Niall Dowling, John Patrick Cunningham and Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees closed up with Willy Bissainte on the double-handed Tradition Guadeloupe. As the two Class40s met just north of Marie-Galante island, both teams opted to head towards the south-eastern tip of Guadeloupe, followed by the First 40.7 Coyote, and picked up speed to seven knots.
“We had another long day today, the bulk of it spent in French territorial waters on the south coast of Guadeloupe,” reports Boyd this morning from 40 Degrees. “We left you yesterday morning after doing our four pirouettes in the vortex currents off Les Saintes in Guadeloupe's south-west corner,” he continues. “Two more 360s and 24 hours later we have left the south coast at the island of La Désirade and are heading for our penultimate corner, the second rounding of the North Sails inflatable mark, just south of Antigua's sister island, Barbuda, 90 miles to the North. Thence, it will be to Redonda and the finish at Antigua's Fort Charlotte.”
Leaving La Désirade to port, both 40 Degrees and Tradition Guadeloupe headed north-west along the direct route to the next mark with Bissainte pulling away to a seven mile lead. “We have had more challenging light airs, a mixture of beating, running and plain doing nothing,” explains Boyd. “Just waiting for wind to relieve us from the merciless sun and the pain of watching the boats catch us from behind, including our Class40 sole remaining rival, the two-man Tradition Guadeloupe. At one stage, we had been 22 miles ahead of her,” recalls the Irish skipper. “She has a formidable reputation and her crew and autopilot have clearly been working hard.”
The RORC Caribbean 600 position poll at 0900 GMT this morning (26/02) indicates that 40 Degrees has headed west away from the direct route while Bissainte on Tradition Guadeloupe has stuck the direct route north. “We’re beating at six knots in a lifting breeze that, we hope, will allow us to free sheets for Redonda and to catch our close rival,” explains the Irish skipper. “Our track shows a pretty chain bracket to record a significant wind shift and tack,” he adds. Deviating from the direct route in the search for breeze has meant a dramatic increase in DTF for 40 Degrees with 271 miles currently showing on the RORC Caribbean 600 Race Tracker. “The calculation of an estimated time to finish is 12 March - a fortnight hence!” says Boyd, studying the GPS extrapolation. “This has triggered a discussion about our food and drink supplies, on the fate of the prize giving party and our rum punches, on the obligations awaiting us on our originally scheduled returns home and on whether we should join our other rival, Ocean Warrior, as one of a number of retirals.”
With unusually light airs for the second half of the RORC Caribbean 600, personal schedules for competitors have become an issue. “John Patrick has a speaking commitment in Cambridge on Saturday night and a Friday night flight to meet it,” explains Boyd. “Niall must be back at work on Monday - the FTSE has taken a dive in his absence. Boydy, unsympathetically, says that he never retires...Miranda is a mermaid and blissful at sea,” he says. For the immediate future, no decision has been made, but it is likely that coverage of the England v Ireland Rugby Six Nations game scheduled to start at 1600 GMT on Saturday is also preying on their minds. “The meeting is adjourned whilst we await the arrival of Miranda's improved weather prediction,” says Boyd.
For the team of Joe Harris, Josh Hall, Michel Kleinjans and Peter Van der Wel on Ocean Warrior, the decision to retire was made on Wednesday afternoon before falling into the wind hole south of Guadeloupe. Josh Hall explains the decision: “The dilemma arrived aboard Ocean Warrior some 30 miles south of Antigua,” Hall explained from Falmouth Harbour last night. Read the latest from Josh in his blog here.
Michael Boyd appreciates the job facing the race organisation: “We note that the sailing instructions state that there is no time limit and no facility to shorten the course,” he comments. “We speculate about the possibility of a future discretionary course - allowing the Race Committee to drop or add whole countries as course marks,” says the Irish yachtsman. “' ...it's too light, forget the second circumnavigation of Antigua' or ' there's plenty of wind, shall we throw in Barbados, that'd be fun'.”
For the team on 40 Degrees, the RORC Caribbean 600 has also significant. “Our highlights have included our still delicious Fusion freeze-dried food and yesterday's communion with some of the ocean's great creatures,” reports Michael Boyd. “A mother whale and her baby and a flock (correct collective noun?) of flying fish.” The team have also spent any downtime productively. “The restless, high-powered intellectuals on the crew have devised a unique system to overcome the vessel's prohibition on the use of the head and to obviate the need for the bucket and the less than attractive Tesco decomposable bags,” he continues. “This system, first prototyped during a cruise in Turkey, is not ideal breakfast reading, but even the redoubtable Miranda is impressed.”