After a start in only two knots of wind, we had a glorious first night, surfing at up to 15 knots in gusts of 27 knots towards a waypoint 50 miles north of Tenerife - sufficently far north, we hoped, to avoid the island's wind shadow. We were wrong and spent the next day slopping around in a confused cross swell that continously knocked what little wind there was out of the sails. The only consolation is that we were not alone - the Swan 56 Latona was always within a few miles, often within sight, even though she rates 25 per cent higher.
Once out into clear wind we started with a tight Code Zero reach which quickly turned into a port tack beat. The way south to the trade winds is blocked by a near impenetrable ridge of high pressure, so the only option is to make the most of the wind shifts around a succession of low pressure systems, with our track "gull winging" in and out of each system. Initially it had looked as though there would only be two of these to negotiate, but it now looks as though there won't be a route south until we've passed four low pressures and will finally have northwinds in which we can reach or run down to the Caribbean.
A few boats, including the 100ft super maxi CQS have tried to break away to the south, so far without success. And the succession of lows are predicted to force the tradewinds south of the latitude of the Caribbean, so going south looks like a slow and risky strategy. More than 1,000 miles upwind is definitely not what was in the brochure, but it's still lovely out here - the ocean's a great place and apart from a couple of short, sharp showers, it's bright, warm and sunny. It would just be even better if we had 15-20 knots from behind. For us, as the smallest and lowest rated boat in the fleet, the only potential compensation is that there are some wind holes in the route that may slow the bigger boats ahead of us, but it's a lottery as to who it's going to favour.
Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JPK 1010 Jangada