Wednesday, 20 April 2011

BWR: Straits and Narrows - Blogs from the Boss Boys

From Andy Meiklejohn:

Andy Meiklejohn. Image copyright Wouter Verbraak/Alex Thomson Racing.

"The straits of Gibraltar, a geographical feature dating back beyond biblical times are shadowed by the pillars of Hercules, ‘The Rock of Gibraltar’ on the European side and Monte Hacho in Morocco. These great columns form a wind funnel like no other with the two prevailing breezes being the Levante, a strong easterly flow, and the Poniente which is an equally strong westerly flow.

"Such is the restriction at the bottle neck, the effects of these flows can spread for hundreds of miles in either direction. We are currently 400 miles from the entrance sailing upwind in a light North easterly driven by the Levante. It seems incredible in such a long race where you can choose your course through any system that we are, in the final stages, dictated to in such a definite way. A recent message from Andor Serra of the organizing committee said the consensuses was that “the door to the Med was only half open”. Indeed our oasis is within reach so we push on, still focused on doing a good job until the finish.

"Being only 800 miles from the finish and due around Easter we are naturally thinking of what’s in store for us, people to contact, articles to write, interviews to give and plans for future projects. A New Zealand Vendee Globe or Barcelona World race project?

"There’s an idea: we have won every other major trophy in the sport except for short-handed sailing. Sounds like a good focus for this new found energy."

From Wouter Verbraak:

Wouter Verbraak. Image copyright Alex Thomson Racing.

“What is going on? Have we tacked again?”

It’s the middle of the night, the heel of the boat feels strange, and I am rather disorientated.

“No, mate, we are downwind, going to the A3”

Downwind, no wonder I don’t know what’s going on, as it has been weeks since the last time we sailed downwind! No wonder also, that I go straight back to sleep (whilst Andy actually meant for me to give him a hand with setting up the A3 he explains later), as with the boat pretty much flat, and not slamming into the waves, sleeping conditions have improved significantly and clearly I was in the middle of a DEEP sleep.

Now with the spinnaker up (I did give Andy a hand in the end) we are making great progress towards the Straits. On course and doing 12-14 knots, now that is a novelty too! So life is incredibly good at the moment and we better enjoy every second of it, because we will be upwind in very strong winds through Gibraltar Strait later today. At least it will be daytime, which will make things a bit less scary slaloming between the no doubt countless huge cargo ships."

Barcelona World Race