Someone flicked the switch. We cruised in considerable comfort until a shady grey cloud line crept up from the West. It had all the signs of significant breeze, enough to get the full compliment of crew on deck for a speedy sail change.
We waited, we looked and we were patient! Nothing materialised, nothing in the cloud line. Two further attempts of front line clouds move in towards us. Nothing…then wallop! It came at 24-26 knots of fun, pure surfing enjoyment. The darkness rolled in before I had any opportunity to capture the excitement. The night didn’t disappoint either – many gybes, stacks and then re-stacks later we sailed our way into the best pressure. It did however finally drop out light. This is where the leaders gained distance and the pack behind compressed.
Wouter doesn’t seem fazed by any of this. His concern now is setting up for the sling-shot East, believing we are in the right placed area when the low pressure systems develops to the west of us. We will probably have to squeeze through a ridge of high pressure, which spills out from the St. Helena high today and some of tomorrow so don’t expect to see much water on the deck.
I know the sleep factor will be at an all time low in the coming days, added with the ever-decreasing temperatures outside we are going to suffer a little discomfort. The leg has certainly been a tightly contested one. We expect now that this leg will run a little longer due to the weather we have been getting. I’m happy now we packed enough food until the 6th of November. I have been putting a little away each day in the case it might run longer so rest assured we will not starve or need to ration on this leg.
I caught up with our under 30s today. We have three on board (Peter, Nicolai and Tom), and rookies at that. I know they don’t mind me calling them Rookies, as each is accomplished in a specific area in sailing (mainly match racing – which is a really short 15min race that takes place inshore) and they have not been on an offshore sail of this description before. This leg has been the longest these three have ever been on a boat. They are dealing with it well, in fact, they are thriving on the challenge. The under 30s rule (min. 2 out of 8 crew must be under 30 years old) has been in place for the past couple of editions of the race and is key to the growth of the offshore sailing scene. If such rules where not in place you may never see young people participate.
They told me a mixture of interesting stories today; how Nicolai just learns more and more each day listening to the knowledge they have onboard. Peter comments about how he feels safe that “the old guys know what your doing and keeping an eye on you and make sure it goes as planned”. Indeed, our own skipper Chris Nicholson was only 28 years old when Grant Dalton took him on for the 2001-2002 edition on Amer Sports. As a rookie to offshore sailing, He too had zero offshore sailing on his CV, but clearly Dalton saw something. This is probably why Chris is a big fan of the under 30s rule, even though it didn’t exist the year he did his first Volvo Ocean Race.
So for now my land friends, we hope you’re enjoying the tracker, the photos and most of all the tight racing we have put on for you. We will be patient another day and wait for our swing left to the land of burgers and beers.
P.s. On a side note if you mix one cappuccino with one normal coffee, a dash of milk powder and 2 spoons of hot chocolate you have the closest thing to heaven… this I learned about 3 hours ago…