Jonny Malbon and Gringo make the most of the building breeze on day 4 of TJV qualifier 10/5/07

Artemis Ocean Racing skipper, Jonny Malbon and his co-skipper Graham Tourell 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.

Lack of wind on the first couple of days has meant slow progress but now, on day four, the breeze is steadily increasing. Here’s Graham Tourell’s (aka Gringo) latest report from Open 60 Artemis Ocean Racing?

It’s been a good night onboard Artemis, mid Atlantic. The breeze has picked up, and has us sailing north at 11-12kts, ready to pick up more breeze which should allow us to ease sheets, and get stuck-in to some great blast reaching…

Last night started off nice and steady, with 6-8kts of wind from the east. Jonny and I managed to make the most of the easy conditions, and bagged plenty of sleep, so we’re both feeling good. At about 0300UTC the breeze picked up to 10-12kts, which meant it was time to change from the masthead genoa to the big Solent. Hanging on to as much sail as possible on these boats is not normally the fastest option. You have to preserve them, as once they are broken, you don’t carry spares. It is much better to change early before breaking anything, and then make use of the water ballast tanks to trim the boat as necessary.

Right now, we are sailing with forward and mid ballast tanks filled, full mainsail and big Solent. The sea state is very confused, and the boat is slamming hard, which makes life uncomfortable… If you can successfully make a cup of tea without wearing half of it you’re doing well! The temperature is starting to fall slowly now, and I’ve now treated myself to a clean, long sleeved thermal base layer, what a treat. Also, due to the increased wind, we’re now getting water over the deck for the first time in a few days, so we’re making the most of our Musto HPX shorts and smock tops to keep us toasty and dry.

We haven’t really seen a lot of wildlife so far on this crossing. I saw some dolphins hunting tuna yesterday morning, which is great to watch, as it looks like a big pub brawl of the ocean! Apart from that, it’s been very quiet, with the exception of the occasional flying fish who decide to make an airborne attack on us by smashing into the deck, bouncing down the boat trying to work out what is happening to them, before re-entering the sea battered and bruised (if they are lucky). Every morning, Jonny and I do a death run. No, it’s nothing dangerous before you ask. It’s just a ritual of walking the length of the boat and checking for flying fish who didn’t quite make it home again, and chucking them off(see picture of Gringo and flying fish, above).

Well, I’d better be off now. I have a table for two booked with a sea view. No need for my girlfriend to be jealous, as it’s with Jonny… Hmm, that sounds even worse doesn’t it? Oh well, I can explain!