Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in 2017 Blogs


Swell to the left of me. Swell to the right of me. That pretty much

sums up the past 24 hours. There is a gentle 2-3m rolling swell from

the north, fuelled by the low pressure systems. In the opposite

direction from the South East is a small swell, from the SE Trades

perhaps, or is that a little far fetched. On top of that the NE Trades

have started to kick in a little chop from behind. All of which

conspire to knock us off course or collapse the kite. Rupert is now

doing his best to maintain that magic 130 degree wind angle.

Meanwhile I have an irritating nursery song on constant replay in my

head - "We're going this way, that way, over the deep blue sea....."

All I need now is "....a bottle of rum to fill my tum, and that's the

life for me"! Grenada - only 2,180nm to go.

Richard and Rupert

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in 2017 Blogs

Jangada - 7 days since race start.

Position: 24.0N 24.5W

Distance sailed: 939nm

Distance made good: 640nm

Average course speed: 3.8kn

7 days since we started and we have finally made it over the top of the

hill and running down to the finish line.

With an average course speed of 3.8kn it's been a long slow climb up

that hill. We normally reckon on around 5.5kn for course speed (average

boat speed + extra distance sailed for optimum routes).

It was 48 hours ago that we made the decision to turn south. The

European weather models that we have been using predicted an opportunity

to pass over the ridge with light northerly winds and no big "park up"

stuck in the middle of a High. The forecast was spot on. The pressure

is now falling and we have an 8kn NE breeze, champagne sailing!

Code 0 flying to speed us south towards the more consistent and stronger

breezes. Our heading due south is 60 degrees off course - a pain we have

to suffer now to pick up those Trade Winds.

Although we are leading IRC Class 2, and the two-handed boats, we are

currently 13th in IRC overall. The wind shadow north of Tenerife was

not kind to us and is reflected in our ranking. However there are still

three boats north of the ridge that need to get south. There is also a

pack of five IRC0/1 boats up to 300nm ahead. With 2,200nm still to go

the race is still on. The IRC0 fleet are probably out of reach now, but

it would be nice to claim a few scalps from the IRC1 fleet.

Time to change spinnakers...

Richard & Rupert


Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in 2017 Blogs

The Tapas Bar at the Top of the Ridge

Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JPK1010 Jangaga

Position: 25.24N 24.26W

True wind speed: 6.4 knots

True wind angle: 58 degrees

Boat speed: 5.1 knots

Air temperature: 27.4 Celcius

Weather: Sun

One of the joys of sailing long distances is that it gives time to slow

down and appreciate the joys of some the important essentials of life.

After five full-on days of racing in constantly changing conditions, and

often confused seas, that have demanded constant attention today has

brought a welcome change.

By breakfast time the wind had settled into a steady 6-7 knots from the

west-southwest, giving a much easier day in prospect as we head south on

starboard tack into the narrow ridge of high pressure that's separating

us from the tradewinds that will eventually push us the rest of the way

to the Caribbean.

After 30-40 minutes of tweaking sail and pilot settings we got the boat

set up to look after herself, with human intervention only needed to

keep a lookout and monitor course and speed. As I write we're hitting

more than 100 per cent of polars, even though neither of us has touched

the helm, or a piece of string, for more than four hours. As for other

traffic, it's 24 hours since we last had a target on the AIS and the

only other life we've actually seen is dolphins.

That's given time to sleep, to do a few small jobs around the boat, and

have a leisurely lunch: freshly-made hummous, Iberian cured ham, cheese,

pate de campagne, fresh vegetables and tasty Spanish olives, washed down

with a couple of cold beers - the first we've had since Friday last week.

Even if the normal fare when racing is easier to prepare, there's still

time to slow down when eating to savour the flavours of the different

ingredients. The same is true even for snacks, where a flapjack isn't

something to be rushed in a couple of bites, and a couple of slices of

dried mango make a great treat in the middle of a long night watch.

The normal routine on Jangada consists of muesli or porridge for

breakfast, wraps with chorizo or ham, cheese, iceberg lettuce fresh

pepper etc for lunch. Evening meals are invariably pre-packaged dinners

that can be boiled in the bag, using the Jetboil, with added rice or

noodles and veg. To keep energy levels constant through the day and

night we also have a huge variety of snacks, including fresh and dried

fruit, nuts, cereal bars, homemade cake and the aforementioned flapjacks.

Caption: Lunch in the Tapas Bar at the Top of the (high pressure) Ridge.

Crew member on GER7475 Lunatix

on . Posted in 2017 Blogs

Hey Ho from on board Lunatix,

Wind?! Anyone seen any? If so send some over please.. We are not asking for much but a little to keep our Lady moving and the crew in a good mood. The last 24h have been a moral test for anyone on board. Result: Everyone passed, at least so far.

On our way to the trade winds we have to go through a belt of very light winds, thats at least what we hoped for, it turned out to be even less than light. To be exact 0.0kn TWS for a good part of last night and only a very light breeze in the morning hours. The bright sunshine and hot conditions lead to a interesting debate if we would prefer cold weather and wind or stay here in the sunny no wind conditions. No result found here, well no need because we are not moving anyway.

Over the last hour a it looks like a bit of pressure has established and we are able to move again. The S2 is up and we are slowly sailing towards sunset, thats at least the right direction.

Biggest question of the day is: Whats coming up for diner? Rumors occurred that there is a good chance of noodles. (What a surprise, we had noodles for diner in different variations every night so far.) Buuut we figured out what turns all kind of noodles into a delicious meal al la Italia: Cheese, more cheese with a topping of even more cheese and chili powder. Terrible rumors came up that both will run out pretty soon. Which leaves us with the hope of wind, to reach Grenada and a restaurant without noodles!!! But maybe with Bar and some Rum attached..?

Crew member on GBR301 Challenger

on . Posted in 2017 Blogs

Hello from Challenger!

Some keener minds may have noticed that we have taken a somewhat different route compared to the rest of the fleet-choosing to head South rather than West after leaving the Canary Islands in a bid to A. Avoid a protracted period of beating, B. Avoid going straight into the forecast strong downwind conditions thereafter with a crew who were new to the boat C. Take a punt- why not.  Whilst our progress so far in the race might not have been meteoric I can say without a shadow of a doubt that so far we are really enjoying the trip  and the crew although new to Spartan have settled well into life at sea.

The past 48hrs have without a doubt been frustrating and I feel for those across the fleet who still have a similar experience ahead of them as they make their own passage across the snake of zero wind that is presently sunning it’s self across the mid Atlantic. Whilst of course as a crew we knew going in that the conditions would be very light south of 25N it is always still a surprise to me when even with such a decent power to weight ration, new code zero and a lot of crew focus the boat finally inevitably grinds to a stop.

It's bizarre that even after so many miles at sea my initial instinct is still that somehow the boat should always keep moving whatever the blue/purple hue forecast on PredictWind. When that foundational block of 'quantifiable progress' is removed and the bus parks it’s self it always takes me a good few hours to shake off the stress of immobility and start to appreciate the beauty of my new surroundings.

For those who have never been in such a situation offshore surrounded by absolutely flat glassy sea, may I share with you one experience from the other night.

Just around sunset the entire sky became filled with vivid shades of lilac and pink but in such a manner that the boundary between the sea and the sky became uniquely obscured . The resulting effect of the sea reflecting sky and the sky seemingly reflecting the sea was that everything merged into one homogenous, beautifully coloured sphere within which we floated. It was quite beautiful and yet strangely unsettling as it left the observer with a feeling of total disconnectedness to not only the world outside but even such simple seagoing securities as the horizon, clouds and stars.

It’s a race yes but wow there is more to it than that. We intend to get our money’s worth.

All's well on Spartan Challenger.