Whales, whales, whales!!

Monday 7 October 2013
CATEGORY: Expedition

They are coming at us!! …. Whales everywhere! We have steered into a
minefield full of mammals, at least fifty of these massive creatures of the
sea surrounding us.. and while breaching humpback whales are wonderful to
watch at from a distance its a completely when it happens about 30 meters
in front of your bow. This morning featured several close encounters, twice
we had to emergency tack in order to avoid a collision – imagine: a head
on head between our 70ft yacht and a similar sized whale. Guess both would
have taken serious harm!!
Its now less then 300 miles to go… The last 24hours saw us sailing in
Stealth mode, which successfully managed to secure our race position in
front of Mission Performance. With every six hourly schedule update we have
steadily improved our distance.
The last day has also been a mix of all possible sailing conditions. We
started with a great downwind run overnight. The Code 3 Spinnaker was up
(our heaviest spinnaker, which we nicknamed “Shemale”, as it can be sailed
similar to a Yankee) and we were rolling down the waves along the Brazilian
coast. Champagne Sailing as they say! Within thirty minutes in the early
morning hours the wind disappeared – we had struck a Mini Doldrum 🙁
Memories of floating around with no speed for days reappeared Groundhog Day
was looming bitterly! Indeed we had hit a wind void, left behind by a low
pressure system that had passed from Brazil out towards the Atlantic.
With 0.0 knots boat speed fears started to surface that maybe our strategic
move to take a route further out towards the east might have been a
mistake. We grinded along with the sails flapping lustless in the air.
It all changed early afternoon – Just after being back on watch the wind
picked up all of a sudden. We had to react quickly in order to avoid
damaging the sails – down went the Windseeker, up the Yankee and the
Staysail… We struggled to get the sail down the hatch as the wind was
trying to blow it away. Just when we had it all down below a massive wave
struck the boat, pouring water down into the ropelocker. Guess who stood
first in line 🙂 I got showering completely!
There was no time for a break as we started to get a massive beating from
the waves… A regular BAMM!and WHAMM! rupturing through the boat as we
slammed down big waves. From down below we could hear cups and pots flying
through the galley. Upwind sailing had and still has us back!!
From the weather it looks as we will take the beating for another 24hours
before we are turning around Cabo Frio for our final approach to Rio.
While the first boats have now finished the race – Jamaica won before PSP
just a mere 19 seconds ahead (or 62metres after a race of 4800miles!!!!) –
we keep our best to stay motivated. Team Garmin seems to be too far ahead
to catch up, so its more a race to be quicker at the Caipirinha…… which
is hopefully less then 48hours away!

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