Malbon and Tourell 'Gringo' are gybing their way home across the English Channel 18/5/07

Artemis Ocean Racing skipper, Jonny Malbon and his co-skipper Graham Tourell (Gringo) are nearing the end of their Atlantic crossing that will serve as the duo’s qualifier for the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race starting from Le Havre, France, in November. Here Gringo gives the latest log from Owen Clarke Open 60 design, Artemis Ocean Racing, at 1200utc at a position of 49.07N 12.28W on day 12.

Hi there folks. We’re nearly home!!!

We are about 12 hours away from entering the English Channel. I can tell we are nearly home as the water is getting grey and the sun has disappeared. If you don’t receive a blog from me on Saturday, please don’t be too upset or concerned. I’ll probably be under my nice big duvet in my nice big comfy bed at home, catching up on some sleep. At the moment we have 15-20 knots of wind from the South West and flying the small spinnaker and full main. It looks like we’ll be gybing our way down the English Channel until we reach the Solent, so we have a bit of work to do yet?

We’ve successfully completed our first gybe this morning without a single hitch, which we were over the moon about, as it always has big potential for a snarl-up. We contemplated putting a reef in the main and squeezing the kite as we had 18-20 knots of wind at the time. But, in good Artemis boys’ fashion, we said “no, let’s go full noise!” So we did. Et voila, the perfect gybe! Jonny was at the helm and took care of the important bit (making the boat go the right way) and the runners, which left me doing the spinnaker, main and traveler. So we set about centering the main, pre-loading the new runner and making sure there was enough slack line on the traveler for it to slide straight down the track so as not to tip the boat over. Once this stage was set, it was on to the ‘main event’. The keel was started to go to the opposite side of the boat, whilst Jonny drove the bow through the turn and I let off the kite sheet and grinded like a man possessed on the new sheet!… All in all, very happy. More to come – hope they all go as smoothly!

Anyway, not much else to report ? We are starting to see quite a few birds playing around us (that’s natural, we get used to it!), most of them are Storm Petrels and Terns I think? Our food supplies etc are still in good shape which means that we don’t look to thin or malnourished which is good news. The only thing we are low on is diesel.

All in all, it’s been a fantastic qualifying trip and I can honestly say we have loved every minute of it! And what’s even better is that Jonny and I have worked really well as a team, having lived together in this tiny floating house and not even punched each other’s lights out! Not bad eh?

Must go now! I look forward to seeing you on terra firma in about 30 hours time…