Crew member on FRA73 Sirius - Night 8 & Day 9 Update

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Night 8 Class40 SIRIUS

At this point the watch rhythm of three on and three off is SIRIUSly starting to take effect of your dreams. You can't believe the surrealism of the dreams that feel SIRIUSly real. Some of them are horror stories that actually make you afraid to go to sleep.

Well.... it is time to go on deck. SIRIUS is taking nice little surfs in 10 to 15 knots of wind. Spectacular universe opens up on top of us while we are chasing the stars with the leading edge of the A2 spinnaker. It is a night to enjoy and smiles of our faces will wipe out the bad dreams and we are sleeping like babies. 

Day 9 Class40 SIRIUS

In the beginning of the race there was one white whale and a white walrus from Finland joining the crew. We must be approaching the Caribbean since our skipper commented today was that those creatures have turned in to two shrimps.

It is boiling hot for the Arctic creatures and escaping the sun is the challenge of the day.

We are doing SIRIUSly nice surfing in up to 18 knots of wind. In the middle of the surfs SIRIUS is climbing the mountains of the North Atlantic swell. The swell has been challenged by the building hills of the Trade wind waves. Combined effort of the ridges and valleys is a SIRIUSly interesting labyrinth to helm. Hopefully we will find our way and see you all in a Grenada bar with a cooling iceberg in the rum glass.

Ari and SIRIUS crew.

Crew member on FRA145 Eärendil - Dec 4

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Dear all,

Everything's fine on board! 

Yesterday afternoon was another of those fine sailing days with an averge wind of 22 knots coming more from East than in the morning, but it cannot be perfect all the time!

With the wind building up in the evening, we gybed and changed spnnakers from A6 to A5. In the not too perfect series of things, there is the fact that we lost another part of the electronics (but still have the essentials, ie the 2nd pilot and the position of the boat on the chart in our nav system). There is also the fact that we are having water in the back compartment of the boat - not a lot, but still in the range of 20 litres very 4 hours - and finally, we have to repair the rudder system from time to time. Apart from that, morale is high.

We gybed again early this morning with a good wind angle. We are on direct route for Grenada. Since yesterday, we have encoutered a lot of weeds, les sargasses. They are everywhere, a little bit more year after year, it seems!

We already had to make a backward manouver to free the keel of them. and we will have to do it again soon. It is easier to free the rudders of them. It is almost impossible to steer with these weeds. I suppose we will see more of them as we arrive closer to the Carribean Islands. Our ETA is now Dec 7 at 22pm UTC as per the nav system.

We are cuurently having more clouds and gusts with an average wind of 24 knots, but gusts up to 29 knots. We run with 2 reefs and the mainsail and have kept our little spi (the A5).

A demain, 
Pietro, Gery and Catherine.

Crew member on FRA145 Eärendil

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Dear all,

Everything and everyone is going well on board Earendil. Morale is very high. We have been reduced to the A6 yesterday for a peaceful night. The wind is quite unstable, shifty in direction and there were more clouds during the night, but all in all we made good progress. Talking about our friends on Hydra, they seem to have less wind than us - their average speed has been lower than ours for the last 24 hours now.

We continue to the west today, keeping the A6 with an average of 19 to 23 knots of wind. The direction of the wind has been around 40° on average since early this morning, so we are on a direct route to Grenada. This may change in the following hours, but we are delighted by it.

We still have 1200 miles to reach Grenada and the routing says 4 days and 15 hours remaining. We look at Kuka3, still very rapid. However, their angle does not seem to be deep. Not enough wind or a problem with their big spinaker perhaps?

Currently it is 12 pm UTC and Pietro is preparing pasta.  Gery is helming (our autopilot is not very efficient). 

More to come tomorrow.

Pietro, Gery and Catherine.

Crew member on GBR8936R Black Sheep

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Day 9.

We are currently zooming across the central Atlantic. After a 5.30 am peel

to the much repaired A2 due to a drop in the wind overnight, and a swift

gybe, we are back up to speed again. Though we aren't surfing nearly as

much, we are still maintaining a reasonable boat speed.

As we reach the halfway marker (in time at least), the days are flying by.

True trade wind weather, with hot sunshine and steady breeze allowing us to

forge our way westward. The nights, however, have been hard work, especially

last night. Thick cloud cover, and the lack of moon until 3am, robbed us of

all visual clues to steer by. This has left us long hours staring at the

true wind angle on the mast, trying to make it say the right number.

However, as i write this, Xtra Straerk - the XP44 - are within visual range,

overhauling us to windward. Their symmetric kite affording them deeper

running angles to boot. With this in mind we know that this is no time to

take our eyes off the ball, our foot off the accelerator, or our hands off

the kite sheets.

Aside from the racing, spirits on board remain high. The sweepstakes on when

we will arrive is taped up in a nav, alongside Paul's Christmas card from

his Mum and Dad. We are having so much fun, that the local wildlife is just

dying to join us. Every night we are peppered with suicidal flying fish (and

one squid) which jump aboard. If they don't kill themselves on impact, they

proceed to flap around the deck depositing scales and 'eau d'fish'. We even

found one in the nav upon a morning, after it deflected down the hatch off a

halyard winch. This popularity would be fine, apart from the smell they

bring with them. This reached and all time high yesterday evening,

triggering an all out fish hunt. The culprit turned out to be a 2 day old

specimen, which had wedged itself under the main sheet traveller.

Flying fish, if you are reading this, you are probably better off not

joining us onboard.

Black Sheep Out.


Crew member on GBR8936R Black Sheep

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Hello from onboard Black Sheep!

Day 7 of the race here, and we've had an exciting time so far! After a good

start we made steady progress in the tricky upwind sections before hitting

some tough light winds passing between El Hierro and La Gomera. Finally

however we found some good pressure and headed South leaving the Canaries

behind! Since then it's made for some great downwind sailing and we've been

surfing waves most of the way. The current Black Sheep speed record for the

race is 18.9 knots held by the skipper himself Jake Carter!

Down below has resembled a sail loft rather than a sail boat. Firstly, an

incident involving Joe putting both an arm and a knee through the J1 earning

him dick of the day. Next was the more serious tear in the A2 spinnaker but

both have been put back together after many hours of off watch sail cloth


Spirits are high onboard, we're making good progress and everyones in a good

mood. Only slight niggle is Squirrel's appalling time keeping; after setting

his watch five minutes late, while he's adament he's on time, he's late to

most watches!

Black Sheep Out.

Crew member on NOR149 Hydra

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A quick update from Hydra. After 5 days of pushing Hydra as much as possible trying to match the boat speed of Earendil we started to feel some play in the steering system. On further inspection we realised that the aft tiller bearings had broken down leaving the assembly loose.

We took the de3cisionto throttle back over night but remain on course for Grenada to give some time to assess the rate of deterioration and upoin a second inspection in the morning we took the difficult decision to turn for the Cape Verdes. Reaching |South East and out of contention of fist place in the class was tough on moral.

We howver used the time wisely and by sat phone and with the help of some great friends we managed to organise the parts we needed to be flown out the very next day. We arrived in port at 7.30am on Friday and by 1300 we had the parts in our hands and got to work.. It is now 1730 and we have just thrown our lines off the dock, hoisted the main and code 5 and sailing at 15 knots for Grenada!!! A pit stop Lewis Hamilton would have been chuffed with!

New bearings, fresh moral and a belly full of pizza we are back in the race. We have a new objective, to hunt down second place 140nm in front of us. With smiling faces we set off into the night and head west!!

Tristan Hydra

Sent from Mail for Windows

Crew member on GBR8936R Black Sheep

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The first update blog from Black Sheep.

First and most important message to all family and friends, everyone is safe

and enjoying the trip.

After a good start we did have a minor concern, following a routine check of

the bilges we found six inches of water in the bottom. A quick taste check

to see if it was salt water or drinking water determined it was salt water,

not a good sign. We started a search to see where it was coming in from and

had mixed views when we found we were in fact pumping it in ourselves. A

pipe had burst on the water maker and we were busy pumping water from the

sea into the boat, not ideal. We have managed to fix the problem via true

sailing bodge tactics, i.e. obtained some pipe from elsewhere, namely the

roving bilge pump now reaches a shorter distance! All is now well, we can

make water without pumping sea water in.

Only other good and bad to report is we are all currently sewing the A2

spinny between the watch shifts. Its safe to say we left it up too long,

after rounding up twice we decided it was time for it to come down,

unfortunately before we achieved it, we rounded up again, broached, blew the

tack and by the time the drama was over we had a 10 foot split in it. The

good news apart from the fact it is nearly repaired, is despite the above

events which lost us some time, we still posted a 202 mile day. Not bad for

a 36 foot boat. We then bettered it today with a 220 mile day.

Black Sheep Out

Crew member on NOR149 Hydra

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Things were looking good yesterday for Team Hydra as we sped south looking for those Atlantic good times. The brochure said, 20 knot winds, great waves, sun, dolphins and much much more. We had eventually capitulated the lead to Earendil who despite our efforts slowly pulled away from us over a number of hours. Hats off to Catherine and her team who are sailing three up versus our four.

We were almost grateful when we lost sight of our arch rivals and settled into our own rhythm, focused on heading for the south to see if the bigger breeze may change our fortunes and put us back in touch again.

Just when we were at our most vulnerable, 3 days out and starting to thing we were in control, the Atlantic rose up and reminded us of who was boss and one small mistake escalated to a bad day on water. It started with a tack line slipping and ended with one of our team in the water cutting shreds of spinnaker from around the rudders.

Two hours later we had taken our medicine and Hydra was flying south again. It’s been a busy night with gusts in the mid twenties. Top boats speed has been 20.4 knots. On deck the plumes of spray sparkled silver in the moonlight which made them look very pretty before they slapped you in the face. Our eyes are red with salt water, foreheads are crusty with salt but we are smiling. Below decks the noise is a cacophony of swirling and slapping, amplified and in stereo but it doesn’t matter because when you fall onto that bean bag nothing will stop sleep from coming.

Hydra has been down, but she is not out and there are over 2000 more miles to battle it out. Green is the new black!

Pip on Hydra

Crew member on NOR149 Hydra

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We are not in a lot of wind and for the most part we have been playing an intense game of cat and mouse with Eärendil. We have been swapping the lead but right now they are just in front of us flying a Code Zero. We crossed tacks twice during the day, winning a cross each. We have been clinging to each other, if we do this all the way across the Atlantic it will be an amazing race. - Pip Hare