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2016 Blogs | Archives | Page 4

Challenger GBR301 Friday Morning

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Onboard Challenger the crew have finished enjoying their beat to windward (see my last blog) and are now enjoying some fantastic close fetching at a wild angle of heel to the South South West as we make an attempt to reel in Campagne De France the rocketship Class 40 about 85Nm ahead of us.
Our great hope now is that the upcoming transition into the next High will slow them somewhat and they will courteously take the opportunity to stop for a bottom scrub & some much needed R&R. Maybe not. On the subject- have you seen that boat? At Marina Lanzarote the pro crew of Challenger went and stood around that boat for about 15mins just to try to get a fix on what's new in sailing and how best to solve the rigging and deckhardware problems we all experience. To our eyes it has been impeccably designed, brilliantly executed and is kept perfectly maintained- displaying a standard of boat husbandry we are striving towards with Spartan Ocean Racing and the 4 boats we currently have- hopefully our rigger Daniel Degenais Gaw was taking copious notes. I was very interested also to learn that Halvard Mabire the co-skipper (and I think desinger and rigger) was actually the navigator on our boat (then called America's Challenge) in the 1997 Whitbread Round the World Race- so yes have we got good reasons to trying to catch up- jealousy and pride.
Meanwhile we are in some fantastic conditions - both headsails are set with a full main and Challenger is well powered up doing 10-11 in flat seas with a warm sun shining.  The crew are now into the swing of things with the watch schedule and even waking up after 3 hours sleep is now not so much of a chore. There is one problem though - all I seem to hear down here at the nav station is ever taller stories being swapped on deck and way too much laughter so obviously I'm doing something wrong. Skippering 103 clearly states sailors are only trying their best when they are miserable- so we are going to have to reintroduce Baroque Music hour to temper things down a little and find that last eighth of a knot.


Campagne de France FRA147 Friday Morning

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We must have read the wrong brochure. Trade wind route it isn't. Still upwind since the night before last, but on the way to better things, although the wind is refusing to match the forecast at the moment. Upwind = bouncing/ slamming off waves and into troughs. Getting water into the Jetboil and then pouring boiling water into a mug and keeping the contents in it while placing the lid on it are activities best undertaken in foul weather gear and boots despite the heat. Yesterday afternoon we crossed tacks with a sailing boat called Hot Stuff, having given them a fly by while heading in the wrong direction when we had to sail downwind for a few minutes to repair something. We spoke to them on the VHF and it transpired that they are competing in the ARC (finish St Lucia). They must also be wondering whether the trade winds aren't just a myth, and I think the ARC started a week before the RORC Transatlantic Race. Every 4 hours, we receive a position report (or punishment report depending on performance), where we see how Campagne de France, or more precisely her crew, has fared against the competition. There are still 2000 miles of race course to go, many more miles than that to sail as the direct route is closed, at least if we want to get to the finish this year, and a lot can happen in that time. Campagne de France somewhere in the Atlantic on a very dark night

Maverick GBR4945R Crew member Day 6 Blog

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Greetings friends, The first week at sea is nearly at a close, and the next week looms over the horizon as we continue our race at a combination of breakneck and not so breakneck speeds. For any of those who remember my last blog, my eye infection does seems to be passing, but has been swiftly replaced with a secondary infection, so as not to upset the status quo, it seems. However, with a kaleidoscope of 4 different drugs coursing through my system, I am beating that too, slowly. This predicament also gives me the dubious award of probably being the highest sailor in the race right now. Fun. We've had some pretty epic foiling conditions recently, and possibly the most fun I've ever had on this boat, foiling at 23knts in pitch dark, screaming through waves with so much spray that if there was any visibility we wouldn't be able to see a thing! It is indescribable, but the experience must be akin to driving a go kart down a waterslide in the middle of the night. A couple shoutouts this week too, namely to Ropeye and the chaps at Spabond for making some really strong stuff! Sleeping beneath the straining lee cloth containing Shaun's overhanging arse, I was worried I would get the full Irish if anything gave way, luckily it all held and I live to tell the tale. A sport for the claustrophobic, this is not. Anyway, that's all from me today. I have some fitful sleep and questionable freeze dried to get excited about. TTFN, Piers

Maverick GBR4945R Skipper Day 6 Blog

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Good Morning team Maverick Fans! Welcome to day 6. Apologies that there was no blog on Day 5 but we had a bit on. The sailing went relatively to plan as per my blog on day 4. We continued to head west and the breeze built as the afternoon went on and veered onto our beam. We moved through the wardrobe until we ended upon the Jib top Genoa Staysail combo (one of our favorites on the yacht) as the wind built so did the boat speeds until we were regularly sitting in the high teens low 20's of boat speed. It was still light but I was below trying to get some sleep. I knew that I would have to pilot the yacht in the pitch dark of night. Just before dusk we played with a few sail settings (reefs etc) to try and find the optimum. Strangely we took too much sail off and the yacht lost her dynamic stability and we could not make good progress. This meant we returned to one reef and got ready. I have never had an experience like this. Regardless of the outcome of this race (which I am still hopeful will be a good one) helming a 46 ft yacht at regular speeds in excess of 20kts at night with no moon, no stars and no horizon in short sharp seas was a phenomenal experience. All I could see was the green and red hue of the navlights as it light up the huge amounts of spray. I must say thanks to Ocean Rodeo for the dry suits. They were fantastic in the supremely wet conditions and I have been living in mine for the last few days. To the now. We eventually (sooner than we hoped) had to stop foiling and go into an upwind mode as the wind veered further ahead of the front. This was forcing us north but we held our nerve and in the early morning the front went through with 34 kts of wind as its peak wind speed. Soon after we tacked over onto the other board to start heading south. Initially we were again in an upwind mode but have been slowly freed (too slowly) as the wind continues to veer. Unfortunately the wind we are now experiencing is a bit less than we hoped for and we cant quite keep Maverick on the foil. It is oscillating between 10 and 14 kts. This is not ideal as we need to foil in order to compete with the much larger yachts. We also need to make good progress south before the large developing high pressure makes things too flat. The likelihood is that we will need to work through a transition zone sometime tomorrow and we will finally be in the trades (although weak ones). In other news Piers seems to be reacting well to the cocktail of medication I have given him (other than falling over on the bow a lot). And this may seem funny but as the Hydraulic oil levels are falling more slowly as we use the keel less and Sean had a nice birthday. We have another birthday soon with Mr Kees Postma having his first birthday at sea. Down below is in pretty good shape but I am looking forward to conditions that will allow us to dry down below out. The sails collect a huge amount of water and we have to live with them down below. I'm just about to go and help Kees bail. As this yacht has no bilges if you do not bail out the water you get to live in it. Not conducive to a comfortable crossing! I have only just discovered the Expeditions foods Custard and Apple and Beef Strogonoff. They are fantastic. Anyway that is all for now peeps.... "When I'm old, i plan to look back on my life and say, 'wow, that was an adventure,' not, 'wow, i sure felt safe" Tom preston-werner Olly Out....

Leopard Blog 1st December

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2016 rtr Leopard 01dec drone close

What a night! Almost every sail we have took a share of a battering as 80 degree windshifts and windspeeds ranging from 6 to 40 demanding at least 12 sail changes. Leopard never knew what the fuss was all about!!! Now into more stable conditions charging along at 16 to 20 knots still hoping for line honours, but the record will be won or lost by a matter of minutes. Once again the drone caused excitement reaching huge heights taking fab photos. We need to finish by 6 december at 1900 gmt, 1500 local time. After last night we all need a rum or two but will have to wait . 1500 nms to go. Long 

2016 rtr Leopard 01dec crew onboard

2016 rtr Leopard 01dec drone far

Images: © Kolja Frase