Things are going well. Bring on those howling dogs so we can join the hunt, Conrad says

It’s been funny watching the position scheds over the last 24 hours as each of the boats in group B manoeuvre for position awaiting the freshening winds arriving from the west.

This morning I was awaken by the radar beeping, warning me that there was something in the area two miles surrounding the boat, the limit that the alarm is set for. I stuck my head outside and an ugly black rain squall loomed over head menacingly.

Quickly, I grabbed some sail ties and stuffed the B&G Remote Vision into my pocket as the first drops of rain landed on my face. The 300m2 Hellomoto spinnaker was already stretching at the seams as I smoked the sheet and sent the sail into a frenzied flap. Pulling on the sock line, I managed to cover up a third of the sail before the spinnaker violently filled again, lifting me off the deck momentarily before I released the line and sent the sock back to the top.

I dialled down a couple of degrees on the pilot and tried again. This time the spinnaker fell behind the mainsail and the sock snuffed the life out the sail easily. I released the foreguy and dragged the sail off the bow and buried it down the forehatch.

I clipped on the Code 5, which was lying patiently on the foredeck awaiting its turn. This sail is strong as an ox and can be quickly furled away if caught out by a squall from the safety of the cockpit. The rain was now lashing down and it was difficult to see if there were any twists in the sheets.

At night you have such heightened senses and so much feedback comes from touch and hearing. It all felt right, so back in the cockpit, I began turning the handles of the coffee grinder to release the beast. I looked at the wind speed and during the squall 30 knots momentarily showed on the B&G dials. My instinct was right and whilst the wind had dropped down to 18 knots, I felt pleased that everything had gone so well.

The drum whirled on the Code 5 furler and once sheeted on Hellomoto was off at 17 knots. A large white plum of water sprayed out from the side decks and whipped over the windward rail. The boat looked magnificent under the deck lights.

And so our little fleet are all tied up, ready to run. Patience is long gone as we weave across each others’ paths, desperate to be first away. The winds will arrives in a few hours time and build rapidly to 35kts. The boats in the south have had there fun, now unleash those howling dogs so that we can join the hunt and get back into the game!