We're 300 miles up the track on the way to Rio, it's getting (slightly) warmer and Adele has come alive as we really start eating up the miles under sail


What a difference a day makes. This time yesterday we were dodging icebergs and punching into it. Today we are in glorious sunshine, charging along smoothly at up to 14 knots in 23 knots of true breeze out of the north-west, two reefs in the main, two in the yankee, a slightly furled staysail and a reef in the mizzen.

The water temperature has crept up to 6.8 degrees C, from under 2 degrees, and we have crossed the Antarctic convergence line leaving glacial waters behind us. After around three months in southern ocean waters Adele is at last hauling her way north.

It has to be said there’s an air of mild relief on the faces of the crew – ‘glad we’ve been there and done it, but we’re looking forward to getting out of this cold weather kit’ is the general tone. Guests are looking a little less green round the gills, they’re becoming more animated and there’s a sense of expectancy as the bow points unerringly north.

I’ve just had a bowl of porridge, smoked eel and salmon for breakfast looking out at the south Atlantic blasting past the deck saloon ports. It’s comfortable and very exhilarating as Adele really begins to get into her stride. Her versatile ketch rig means that when the wind begins to ease we can start piling on the sail and maintain these high speeds even with the wind just into double figures. This has always been the game plan for Adele, a yacht aboard which one needs to reef quite early.

The single line reefing system is an automatic press button affair with the halyard and reef line winches synchronised to take in the first reasonably deep reef. Headsails are, of course, on big Rondal furlers.

There’s a temptation to shake out a reef but it would only increase heel angle to an unacceptable degree for those below and wouldn’t add much to the speed. We could go on forever like this. Skipper Andre says 16 knots is the ‘red line’ for this yacht, the point at which loads start becoming rapidly greater. “We’ve had her up to 19 knots and she will slide down big waves,” said Andre who clearly has a total handle not only on how the yacht herself is ‘feeling’ but the effects on crew above and below decks.

He’s on his fourth major global sailing adventure. Brought up in the
demanding waters of the South African coast he’s the sort of man it’s good to have around when things get mucky. We’ll be interviewing him in greater depth for the next issue of Supersail World, out with the June issue of Yachting World.