RORC Transatlantic Race - Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JKP1010
Tradewinds - normal service to be resumed
Position 14.33N 36.47W
Wind 040-060 degrees true, 10-16 knots
Air temperature 29.7 Celcius
Water temperature 22.6 Celcius
Weather 70 per cent thin cloud
Our spell in stereotypical tradewind conditions a few days ago didn't
last long - barely a couple of days before the skies clouded over and a
succession of squalls brought gusts into the upper 20s.
After some spirited surfing that saw Jangada hitting 14 knots, the sea
state became such that it was no longer feasible two-handed to continue
with a spinnaker set - when well offshore it's usually sea state, not
simply wind speed, that dictates when to drop.
We then spent 24 hours running with a poled out No4 jib, or reaching
with the jib and one reef in the mainsail, still hitting boatspeeds well
above 10 knots and making good progress towards Grenada. However, the
next obstacle was an area of high pressure, right where you'd normally
expect the north-easterly tradewinds to be well established.
We negotiated the worst of it last night, when the wind speed dropped to
less than four knots. Unfortunately, the larger boats in Classes 0 and 1
got past that point well before the high became established, so we've
lost out compared to them. Nevertheless, we have a few in our sights
that we can realistically overhaul on corrected time between now and the
finish, and we're still leading both our own class and the two-handed
division by a comfortable margin.
In terms of distance we're only half-way through this 3,000 mile race
after 13 days at sea. That's certainly frustrating, but the second half
should be much faster - we're now below 15 degrees north Latitude and
the winds are forecast to build between here and the finish, which gives
a prospect of consecutive 200 plus mile days and finishing within 9 more
days. The 100ft supermaxi CQS took line honours on Wednesday, but given
her IRC rating is almost 1.9 times greater than that of Jangada, we have
until the early hours of December 16 to beat her on corrected time.
However, there's one more potential obstacle to negotiate before we can
think of the finish - today the CAPE index (a measure of the energy in
the atmosphere that can create thunderstorms and squalls) is quite high.
Apart from that the routine on board continues. We still have some fresh
fruit and vegetables left, but stocks of both are rapidly dwindling,
although there are plenty of treats to eat, including excellent Iberian
ham and chorizo, tasty Spanish olives and more.
Although the winter nights are long here, hiding from the relentless
tropical sun is still important during the day. Depending on which gybe
we're on the afternoons are not so bad if the sun is behind the black
3Di mainsail, although the white spinnakers and the Code 0 doubtless
have a much lower Sun Protection Factor.