Fourth Skipper Log Entry:
Reaching, Surfing and 22 Knots of Speed!
May 26, 2011
Ok- so today's news is all good - this no longer sucks - in fact, it is a lot of fun for the simple reason that we now have 30 knots of wind directly behind us instead of directly in front of us. Life is really so simple. As we beat our brains out yesterday coming south in the Celtic Sea, the wind moved slowly from south to west and we were freed up to reach as we rounded Lands End at 6:00am for the second time.
We then reached off at high speed towards the island of Guernsey and have been trading off on the helm all day going for new speed records! I think I am the current record holder at 22.3 knots (and that is both the boat speed through the water and the speed over ground on the GPS agreeing, so it is the real deal), although Josh may claim he has tied it. The waves in the morning were quite large although short, but the surfing conditions were good. It felt at times like skiing through a mogul field and other times just like you were on a surfboard in a big Hawaiian curl. The boat effortlessly picks up and gets on a plane and then quickly builds from 12 to 14 to 16 to 18 to 20 knots picking your way through the waves like a skier choosing a downhill line. The challenge is making the planing last as long as possible and not wiping out, i.e. having the boat round up to windward when the rudders can't control the boat due to too much wind in the sails. When a big puff comes, it is easy to get overpowered and the wipe outs can be spectacular!
Otherwise, life onboard is damp and cold. Temps are chilly and nothing dries when it gets wet - so everything is wet. We are watching our competition near the finish line while we are still a ways away and it is a bit humbling. These French guys are really good at this. They know the boats, they know the waters and they are just plain good short-handed sailors. I need to learn how to sail this boat optimally in all conditions and that will take some time. I need to ask a few questions of the designer regarding the use of water ballast and various sail combinations, as it seems to us that sailing the boat lighter and with a smaller sail plan is the way to go rather than piling on the canvas and filling all ballast tanks. Lots to think about and improve on.
But really, just getting around this very challenging race course with the boat fresh out of the wrapper will be an accomplishment we shall be proud of.
More from the finish line tomorrow -
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