The crew aboard BG Spirit are all fired up for the final 2,000 miles of Leg 5 of the Global Challenge. Andy Forbes reports
Position 18 deg 47′ North 38 deg 41′ West
Position in Fleet 4th
DTF at Last Report 2,049nm
I suppose when you sit down and look at the last three weeks, the progress we have made has been quite remarkable. Average speeds across the fleet have been far in excess of the predictions and the 24 hr records have been broken again and again.
The conditions in general have been truly remarkable with little foredeck work and predominantly reaching and running angles requiring the usual constant trimming. The sun is shining and foulies are rarely seen on deck. I cannot remember the last time I had my own out.
We are currently to the north and slightly east of the bulk of the fleet holding a very slender lead over SAIC and BP with the usual suspects right on our heels. Miles are lost and miles are gained in a very short time period. It’s amazing how far the fleet has come in terms of racing. On leg 1 we were in the same waters as now and the spread was far greater from the front to the back. The close proximity of so many boats now is testament to how good our crews have become in racing these one-design boats to their full potential. Reaching speeds in excess of 21 knots, surfing down waves in 35 knots of wind with the spinnaker up does not really raise an eyebrow any more. We are all striving for that important fraction of a knot that will make the small difference needed. We are all searching for the extra knot of wind that gives you the edge. Who will come out on top? Who knows? One thing is for sure we will all be doing our best to ensure it is the team we give our all too.
We have new weather systems moving in from the west and you can see the yachts starting to spread a little to take the line they think is best. Different gradients of pressure will see some boats take an initial leap forward only to be hampered when the lighter breeze falls in behind the approaching front. Others on the racecourse may miss the system all together only to see yachts ahead scoot away with the new wind. Of course we all believe to be doing the right thing. All we have to go on is the weather we get from the different sources available. Hours are spent across the fleet scouring over the satellite images and weather faxes trying to decipher which way the weather will go. Stay east or go west? Head north a little more away from the rhumb line – perhaps some better pressure but that means more distance to sail. Have we got the belief that it will pay off in the long term? Will the weather do what we think? A thousand questions to be answered. If it works you’re a hero and come out gleaming. If not you face the big question, why? Total trust from the crew is a key factor. Set out the strategy and execute the plan to the finest degree. Everybody buys in and the common goal is set.
I know for a fact that many of you sat at home in week 1 of this leg were probably saying to yourselves: “What are they doing?” We propped up the fleet for a week. We had a plan and stuck to it through thick and thin. Self-belief is a major player aboard BG. Never think that something is not achievable. I mean we’ve just completed a circumnavigation of the globe a pretty good show in itself really. There were many members of this crew and I am sure many others that thought they could not do this at the start, but look where you are now.
The final 2,000 miles beckons upon the horizon. We have no damage to our sails and are well placed for the final fight towards Boston. Placings will change over the coming days have no doubt. The crew are fired up and raring to go. The winches grind to the flow of the wind. We now just sit and wait for that all-important phenomenon our true enemy or our true saviour – the wind! Will she behave and ensure our tactics pay off? Time will tell.
Love and best wishes to all at home.
Andy Forbes – Skipper BG Spirit