Thursday, December 06, 2007

Spirit of Canada maintains position ahead of Rich Wilson, now within range of Dee Cafari, Brit Air dis-masted.

Carried by the wind...

The weather conditions have become more difficult over the past few hours with the arrival of stronger E to NE'ly tradewinds, which sometimes exceed thirty knots. Under reduced sail area, the fourteen solo sailors are lying low whilst Armel Le Cléac'h is motoring towards the Cape Verde archipelago.

It certainly isn’t the sailors' favourite point of sail, especially when the seas are built up and chaotic and that there’s at least two more days of such conditions ahead... Over 25 knots of wind for the tail end of the fleet including Canadian Derek Hatfield (Spirit of Canada): "I have had some problems with the computers at the start and the weather systems haven’t worked through the way I wanted until a couple of days ago. I’ve got some automatic pilot problems too. It’s quite a drastic day today too. The wind is blowing at 26 degrees True and I've got 34/35 knots over the deck. It's very bumpy with messy seas and conditions are difficult because the boat's slamming a lot."

Dee Caffari: “I’m struggling to maintain ‘me’ in these conditions. I know I should eat but I don’t really want to eat anything and I know I should drink but I can’t be bothered to make anything. When you don’t sleep and you’re tired, it all compounds in conditions like these. But it’s all useful practice that I can use next time. It makes me laugh that I spent 178 days at sea on the Aviva Challenge and 70 per cent of it was upwind but it was pure luxury compared to this. The boat is so different and, when she is crashing to windward, it is a really uncomfortable environment to be in. It feels as though it is falling apart, the windows are leaking and it’s miserable. We are taking a lot of water over the top of the boat. Everything feels wet and filthy. Even the flying fish are confused – they don’t know whether to fly or get carried in the waves. Life is pretty uncomfortable. I have discovered that in my reading of the weather I am still lacking in confidence and am easily swayed. I find it hard to stick to what I think and why I think it even though I have done ok so far. I just need to do more of it. I am also finding it difficult to predict where I will be in a few days compared with everyone else in the fleet but hopefully that will also become easier as I get more solo miles under my belt.”

Text and photos from the Transat BtoB webpage reporting. Click on Google Earth shot for larger size. - Ralph