Jonny Malbon and Gringo should complete TJV qualifier in 9 days 11/5/07

Artemis Ocean Racing skipper, Jonny Malbon and his co-skipper Graham Tourell (Gringo) left Antigua on Saturday 5 May bound for Southampton, UK. The crossing which should take around 12 days will serve as the duo’s qualifier for the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race starting from Le Havre, France, in November. Here’s Malbon’s latest log from Open 60 Artemis Ocean Racing?

Good morning.

For most of yesterday and last night we have been sailing fast upwind, 12 or so knots into a punishing sea with the boat frequently slamming. A horrible feeling and a terrible noise, especially down below as the whole boat creaks and groans and shudders. Makes you wonder about the integrity of the structure, and what’s happening to the rig, and all sorts of other things!

So we have both been feeling a little hard done by on the weather front, the long awaited reaching and downwind conditions yet to be seen – that was until we sailed or should I say ‘smoked’ by a yacht just before dark last night. We put the VHF on and a Finnish guy on a boat called Curosa sparked into life. They had left Bermuda (only 400 miles from where we met them) a week ago, and have been averaging between 30 and 50 miles a day. Suddenly we felt a bit better. The guy asked what speed we were doing, and Gringo said “between 12 and 14 knots”, and you could almost hear the guy sigh from a couple of miles away. “We are doing 3 knots right now,” was the reply, which to be fair must be pretty dull.

The funniest part of the conversation was when he asked where we were headed, and the ETA. Gringo replied, “Southampton, and about nine days”. When the guy got back to us after a long pause, we could both hear his wife in the background roaring with laughter. When he found out there were only two of us board another round of laughter. So that made us feel better, although when we asked how things were on board his boat, he said in a typical Scando accent, “well, it’s ok, but we have no more eggs, but the steaks are still good”. So I guess although they are slow and not expecting to be in Horta in the Azores for 25 days, they have the luxury of good food. I know where I’d rather be.

When Gringo woke me up this morning, the conditions were the same, pretty miserable. I had spent my previous watch reefing and constantly monitoring the wind, as we probably should have changed down to the small Solent. Gringo said that he had spent the whole of his watch doing the same, trying to justify exactly why we were leaving up as the breeze got to 18 knots. We didn’t change it though and after I got the weather this morning it was the right call as we bore away onto a beam reach. After shaking out the reef as well, the boat was on fire, and we have been sailing along at 15 knots ever since. I think she was just happy not to be head butting the sea repeatedly.

All in all, a good morning, a beautiful sunrise and finally the reaching conditions we have been promised. In the last five minutes the wind changed direction again, so I guess a sail change is due, and probably some faster sailing. Yahoooooo!

Hope all is well back home. Right, better get the next lot of weather in.