Crew member on GBR301 Challenger

on . Posted in 2017 Blogs

Hello from Spartan Challenger.

The last 24hrs have seen a remarkable change for us - gone are the flat waters and open skies of the high we traversed in the last few days to be replaced by the fluffy white clouds and evenly marching lines of waves forging ever West that mark our entry into the trade winds. For those not in the know, at this time of year between approximately 15N and 25N the trade winds in the northern hemisphere blow in a continuous band flowing North East to South West creating a wonderful downwind ride for those wishing to sail from Europe or North Africa to the Caribbean; our ancestors were not unaware of this and hence the name 'tradewinds'.

For modern race boats these conditions are near perfect to eat up the miles, surfing along on waves that are themselves doing 15 knots in winds that blow constantly in the direction we wish to travel- it is not hard to understand therefore that this route is considered a nirvana for those with seasalt in their veins.

On board Spartan Challenger we continue to hone our skills- those who last week were piloting Ruffians on lakes in the North of England are now getting used to the scale of things on a Whitbread 60. The spinnaker is the size of a tennis court, the ropes have a breaking strain of 8800kgs, the rig is 90ft and the boat's desire to set off like a greyhound must be constantly

held in check until I feel everyone is happy with 'what comes next' should things start depart from the game plan in unexpected heavy winds. Such is the life of a Sail Training Boat- maximum performance is only ever possible on almost the last day of the event!

Last night crewmen Rob Copely and Rupert Powlesland report having a great watch helming by the stars under a nearly full moon with the A3 kite & full main up. As they enjoyed their sailing dolphins dived and played next to the boat in the bioluminescence creating great plumes of sparkling light under water and backlit torpedo trails that criss-crossed the boat's bow and wake. It was a unique night of sailing that will long be remembered I am told; however, if I know the tradewinds as well as I think- it is just the first of many such fantastic transatlantic memories.

All's well on Spartan Challenger.