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Skipper's Logs Archive: Transat Jacques Vabre 2005

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Intense Start & Heading for the Islands of Madeira
November 10, 2005

Hello Friends-

Sorry I have not been writing much but it has been very difficult to have my fingers strike the keyboard in the intended place with the boat pitching around like a bucking bronco. It has been an action-packed four days since the start of the TJV. To summarize:

1. Won the start and first boat in class to the first mark.

2. Duel with Artforms started early as the two boats pulled away from the pack.

3. First night out we got hammered by a 35 knot "English Channel in November" storm. When the boat hit a wave violently I was thrown across the cabin and landed rib-cage first against a carbon post. Ouch! It knocked the wind out of me and it took me a few moments to collect myself. I tried to go back up on deck but I was hurting and my co-skipper Josh Hall suggested I take a break in the bunk, which I did. I don't think the ribs are cracked but they are bruised pretty bad and it hurts when I pull on lines and crank the winches. I hope I recover quickly.

4. After recovering from the storm the first night, the second night delivered an even worse storm in the notorious Bay of Biscay. The forecast called for gusts up to 60 knots but luckily we only saw 45. Somewhat survival conditions for a while as we had three reefs in the main and the storm jib just trying to avoid getting knocked down by the huge seas rolling through.

5. We finally rounded Cape Finisterre at the North end of Spain and began sailing down the coast of Portugal. The sun came out yesterday, the wind went behind us and the sailing conditions were just lovely as we limped away from the North Atlantic - beaten but not broken.

6. Side note A: Our arch rival Artforms tore their mainsail and had to divert to Lorient, France to repair it. They are now back in the race after an Indy-style pit stop and will be chasing us hard for sure although they are about 360 miles back. In a race of 4,500 miles - anything can happen.

7. Side note B: A boat that is a sistership (same hull and deck) to Gryphon Solo called Vedette is in our class and giving us a very good run for the money. They are currently about 60 miles behind us but we are watching the position reports every two hours to track their progress and tactics. We need to stay between them and the finish line.

8. We are rolling along at 15 to 20 knots boatspeed in a Northeasterly (behind us) breeze as we head for the Islands of Madeira. After that we pass close by the Canary Islands, then the Cape Verde Islands before entering the doldrums region just North of the equator. Goal is to keep the hammer down and make big miles on our rivals in the downwind conditions.

In summary, it has been an intense four days and I can see no let up. My co-skipper Josh Hall is very experienced and has been awesome at every aspect of handling this hot rod. He wants to push hard and I am sometimes the Granny on the brake (role reversal?!) wanting to preserve the boat but we are working well as a team. Living conditions are like camping in your shower. The basics are not easy at a thirty degree heel angle.
I'll spare you the details. 

Thanks to all for your support.

Cheers-

Joe
Skipper, Open Class 50 - Gryphon Solo



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