It's day three of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Matt Sheahan is holding down the weather rail on the Wally, J One...
Under normal circumstances the long beat back through the picturesque islands would have worked up a sweat for the grinders and trimmers.
But for the Wally fleet, the experience was a serene and stress-free one as the trimmers exercised their index fingers on the push button controls for the powered winches. Caught in the middle of the fleet, a lone Swan, Favonius, an 80-footer, provided a display as to what going to weather is normally like – or at least the grinders did.
Stunning scenery and perfect conditions.
Dangerous But Fun
There may only be 10 knots of breeze now but the big sea continues to run putting huge shock loads on the asymetric spinnakers as the boats pitch through the seaway on the downwind leg to the top of the island. The Wally, Dangerous But Fun, seems to be discovering this the hard way with one ripped kite and one that has just blown out completely. An expensive day but I would guess she’s not alone.
At this rate it will be a long day afloat and an even longer night for the shore teams.
Wild Oats dismasted
Matthew Sheahan reports that Wild Oats has lost its rig just half a mile up the first beat of today’s race at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup?we’ll have more information today as it becomes available?
A big day
Big boats, big courses, today’s race takes the fleet out to the eastern side of the islands and up on a long beat/fetch to the north. the return leg sees the fleet thread its way betyween the islands as it heads south, a tricky, shifty leg as the breeze funnels in between the islands. Total course length 65 miles. Big boats, big courses, late dinner!
Having got ourselves into the groove upwind, the lumpy conditions close to the entrance give way to more settled conditions further out to sea. The breeze is around 12 knots with the odd gust to 14.
Given the easterly wind direction and the start area tucked away between the islands to the north, today’s course looks likely to be a busy one for foredeck crews with plenty of reaching in the crossover zone between spinnakers and genoas. Handling such huge sail areas in confined waters will sort the wheat from the chaff and provide photographers with a dream day out.
Taking your lumps
Yesterday’s mistral wind may have blown through to leave a 15 knot breeze in its wake but the problem for race organisers today is the change in wind direction from the north to the east with the new breeze fighting the old sea state. The result is a very lumpy race course.
Overall the forecast is for the breeze to decay through the day possibly dropping down to single figures.
In the meantime, from my weather rail position on the Wally 77 J1, as we head out to the start, its clear that conditions will ensure that there will be plenty to talk about by the end of the day.