Duggie Gillespie, skipper of Spirit of Sark, sent yachtingworld.com his latest weekly log from Leg 5 of the Global Challenge
Leg 5Cape Town to Boston
PositionMid north Atlantic: 37.51N, 58.33W
Fleet position overallCurrently in second place overall, won both Southern Ocean legs and was the first yacht in the race to circumnavigate
Thursday 26 May
We have been working desperately hard at gaining miles on the fleet, frankly getting bored with the sight of Team Stelmar and Barclays Adventurer. They gain, we gain, they gain until one breaks away, changes course to see if they can get away.
Today all change. The weather is going light and we all knew this would happen but it was how it would come was the question. It came last night in the form of us, Spirit of Sark, taking the top run of the schedule, which we have not done for some time. Fleet north, south and east virtually stopped. We take second place. But who is leading?
Sailing quietly and majestically in the early rising dawn we await the dreaded surprise. A yacht in front on the opposite tack coming in, holding its bearing to us meaning we are on converging courses. Which one is it? The early watch scramble about busily working it out. This time it is in our favour. Green writing on the mainsail could only mean one yacht, our archrival BP Explorer, heading the Global Challenge, with us in second place.
Saturday 28 May
We are still within sight of Challenge yachts. You would think the Atlantic Ocean would be big enough to share around that we do not have to be in the same water together. In a yacht race where getting away from each other with the biggest possible distance between us is the name of the game it is almost as if that social thing us humans like to do is getting the better of all of us! This race is close and, if it ever can do, it will become even closer. As I write we have three other yachts within 3.5 miles of us. BP is so close I was considering fenders out just in case we collide as there is zero boat speed and we are drifting like dodgem cars with no controls.
Tuesday 31 May
We have come from afar and with under 1,000 miles to go we are having what I call a ‘shaving moment’ – the water is glassy as there is so little wind, so still that I can take a rare look in the head’s mirror and emerge shorn 20 minutes later – Gillette you have looked after Spirit of Sark admirably. Amazingly 40 knots is expected within 24 hours. It is so varied out here in these oceans. Just three days ago, as we watched the blackness of a huge squall approach we were amazed to see multi waterspouts when the substantial cloud build up created several mini tornado features coming down from the clouds in light blue cones reaching the sea surface and blowing up water in all directions – similar but more dramatic than a helicopter’s downdraft – over a 100m across.
The squall never reached us, so it is back to the light wind sailing for now, sun beating down in boats designed for the roughest toughest weather nature can throw at them.
Thursday 2 June
The 40 knots did arrive and made its presence known. In 24 hours we went through the whole sail wardrobe bar three sails with reefs in and out to add to it. We have started gearing down again only to find we may be going into lighter winds once more, so yet more sail changes. Only the southern oceans have made us work as hard. And for the first time in weeks we are on our own, the last we saw of three other boats was their white lights as they disappeared over the horizon amidst the spray and the stars last night on different courses. We have also hit another land mark or sea mark in this race as we negotiate the Gulf Stream, right now with its current a little against us though we are hoping to cross it before a high pressure system reaches us so that we are not fighting it in light winds. It is a race against time with only 650 miles to go to the finish of this leg in Boston. We have fallen back down the position table but with mileage in single figures between us and several rivals the race will be as tight and as tactical as it ever was right to the line.