Brian Thompson's Vendee qualifier takes a turn for the better on day four 6/6/08

Team Pindar’s Open 60 skipper, Brian Thompson undertaking a 4,500 mile qualifier for the Vendée Globe, which begins in November.
The transatlantic solo journey, which will take him from Falmouth much of the way to Newfoundland, is now in day four. From onboard, Brian explains:

“What a difference a day makes! Yesterday ranks as one of my worst sailing days ever, going nowhere in boat breaking conditions, and today so far is ranking as one of the best, bowling along with the spinnaker up and not a cloud in the sky.

“Yesterday there were 2 sets of seas coming head on whichever tack I took. These seas would have been created by stronger winds close by. It was a matter of slowing the boat right down to minimise the slamming. It takes some slowing down on the new Pindar, as she is so quick and powerful to windward, she felt like sailing the 60 trimaran Lakota with a similar amount of power available. Most of the time I was down to 3 reefs and the staysail and for a while was just on the triple reefed main alone, the wind was generally just 20-25 knots.

“It was a full on rainy, squally day filled with changing sails, steering the boat over the waves, and they really were not big waves at all, just the wrong size and shape for a 60 footer. I am sure a smaller boat would have been fine. Anyway, in all the sailing I have done that was up there as one of the nastiest days and at the time I was thinking, it’s not all going to be like this. The goal was to get through the day without breaking anything and we seemed to have done that. A good test passed for the boat.

“Little did I realize what a rapid change it would be getting out of the Bay of Biscay depressions and into the Portuguese Trades. By this morning, 12 hours later, I was going downwind in the sunshine and putting the spinnaker up. So now I have 475 square metres of spinnaker and 180 square metres of mainsail set. It was my first time getting the spinnaker up on my own and it went smoothly, so had a celebratory Lucozade afterwards. Next is my first ever solo gybe on Pindar this to stay south of the light winds between me and the Azores.”