Friday, December 14, 2007

Latest on BtoB at the rear as leaders finish

The latest position reports and mapping show Derek and his two competitors at the tail end of the pack are finally out of the doldrums, and moving at a reasonable non-stressful speed of 7.9 to 8.4 knots. That will change as they hit big winds and very cold temperatures nearer the top portion of the planet. Derek seems to be doing well at the moment by splitting tacks with the other two. I imagine all these competitors will be trying to find ways to learn from this race, as over the winter, they modify their boats (Cafari gets a new one!), or consider their strategies and sailing over the winter months in advance of the big Vendeé Globe race. - Ralph at Montreal Sailing

Hello from Spirit of Canada - 11th December 2007

The wind is back which does wonders for my motivation. No wind is stressful. Im really missing that genoa now though as we are going upwind in 10-12 knots. The boat is not fully powered up but moving along well at between 6 & 10 knots upwind. I have the gennaker and spinnaker at the ready, if ever we get some downwind work. The weather files show at least two more days of this light air and then possible some sailing directly towards Port La Foret and the finish. It will be good to get this race over with and start working on the long list of improvements that we can make for the Vendee Globe. As I mentioned, this race has been a steep learning curve.

I had an email from Jack today (his mom actually); I guess they talk about Spirit of Canada and this race over dinner each night; and Jack had this question: why is he going so slow? I wonder that myself Jack but here is my answer: tell Jack that if I could get it to go any faster be assured I would, I don't want to be out here any longer than I have to. (I miss Sarah too much). Unfortunately the autopilot that steers the boat has some work issues and doesn't do a very good job. The pilot has turned the boat around a number of times when I've been sleeping and the result is broken equipment. Also, I don't have all the sails available now in some wind ranges due to damage to the forestay, so the boat is not performing at its best. AND, I need more practice.

If any other students have questions, please email them to: and I will do my best to respond.

Otherwise, everything is fine on board. I have a leak in the ballast system that requires bailing about five buckets a day from the engine compartment, but otherwise we are ok.

Take Care,


More correspondence:

Derek Hatfield (Spirit of Canada)

"All's well even though we haven’t got much wind: 5-6 knots, but the breeze is gradually shifting to the SE. The calm zones over the past few days have been terrible! Today, the seas are flat and a lovely deep blue; the skies are blue, it’s warm despite a little chill in the air and the nights are fantastic with the shooting stars. I’m on a direct course towards Port la Forêt... Hoping there won’t be too much wind at the end of the course! "

Dee Caffari (Aviva)

Finally after 36 hours of only seeing 1 or 2 knots of wind I can now see 3 knots of wind and occasionally this has been more. I have now suffered my fourth day of going slow or even not at all and it does not get any better. Aviva and I are crawling along at a snail's pace just trying with every puff to get north. We know the breeze is up there as we have watched the others sail for home. Congratulations to those just finished for a great race. Now that the front runners have finished the race the pressure is on for us at the back of the fleet because the finish line only stays open for nine days from the first finishing boat crossing the line.”