Vestas Sailrocket team have only three days to try and break World Speed Sailing record

There is only three days left for the Vestas Sailrocket team, and skipper Paul Larsen, to try and break the World Sailing Speed record at Walvis Bay in Namibia.

Paul Larsen comments:

“Today was old school Walvis Bay. The wind machine that we had begun to lose faith in came back on with a vengeance. We still had a boat to repair after yesterdays adventures so we struggled to get on the water in time. In a way that is not quite right… because I know (with hindsight) that we could have… and really that we should have… been out there earlier. Although it’s been a while since the wind came in with such strength so early… that is not an excuse. I know better.

We had to carry Vestas Sailrocket across the shallow lagoon at low tide. This is hard work. By the time we got over to speed-spot and up to the timing hut, the conditions were perfect. The rigging team didn’t even get out of the RIB. I came back with a thumbs up and we made straight for the top of the course.

It sure was windy… but we are now conditioned for it. Putting the wing up was a slightly nervous affair. Some things didn’t feel right and the boat was shifting around bullishly. Everyone was nervous. It really was windy. I called back to the timing hut on the VHF’s… and they still spoke of ideal conditions. Soon they started radioing in gusts of 27… then 28… and soon 30 knots. I knew it was too much. There are aspects of this boat you just simply have to respect. Pure slap-dash bravery will not cut it on its own. As we only have three days left… two of which have a good forecast… we cannot afford to make mistakes. There is no longer the option of a lengthy repair period. This is it. We have to nail it with what we have now.

We lowered the rig and stood on station until near on sundown. The wind didn’t abate… so we headed home… only to have to half carry the boat back across the lagoon in rough and windy conditions.

Well, at least she is still in one piece. I will never know if I have made the right decision on days like this where I take the safe option… but the decisions are well considered as I know I have to live with them.

We retired for a team dinner at home.

Tomorrow we will arise bright and early and do a full rig up on the lawn of the Walvis Bay Yacht Club. Tomorrow is forecast to be stronger than today…I still feel strangely confident.”

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