Chilling out at a vineyard prepares Sir Robin Knox-Johnston for the big one - Velux Ocean Race leg 2 10/1/07

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston currently preparing for next Sunday’s Velux 5 Ocean restart considers Leg 2 – a leg he is not particularly looking forward to.

Wednesday 10 January 2007
Well, Saga Insurance is back in the water at the Fremantle Sailing Club, where the entire surviving fleet of five boats are together preparing for the next leg. I have managed to relax a little, visiting friends in their charming vineyard near Margaret River and getting up flying down the coast, so it has not all been hard work.

The damage from the fishing line, which cut right into the bottom of the keel, has been repaired very nicely by Nick, who spent six years with Bill Green in Lymington, who also dealt with the enlarged gap around the keel entry into the hull which was causing unnecessary drag.

Simon Clay and Pete Cumming have led the team and made a huge difference, but they have been backed by Huw Feenie and Tim Ettridge from the UK and Cdr Dilip Donde has managed to re-join us from India. So we have a good, experienced and strong team at work.

The sails were taken away by David Swete, from North Sails NZ, who has fixed all the tears caused by broken battens and added a 4th reef to the mainsail. I want the 4th reef because this next leg is the nasty one and my 3rd reef just gave too much power when the winds got above 45 knots, but if you are going to run the big waves you must have enough power. If you go too slowly the waves start to throw you about which can also be dangerous.

The replacement instruments are installed by Tom Green of Raymarine. We have removed all extraneous wiring as we are convinced that our problems with the instruments and autopilots came from corruption from another source. This new equipment now just requires calibration. We think we have traced the cause of leaking into the sail locker, but need to test it.

Our next objective, once everything is in place, is to go sailing. This is set for Thursday with Friday as follow up. Saturday is for stowing food and gear and then a good relax so I feel fresh for Sunday. The weather for Sunday does not look that exciting. At the moment it looks like headwinds as far as Cape Leeuwin, but once that is passed the winds are westerlies.

I cannot say I am looking forward to this next leg of the Velux 5 Oceans race. It is 14,500 miles, but half of that distance is just getting from here to Cape Horn. We are going into the zone of ice, cold water, very strong winds and high seas. The Race Committee have given us some waylines for this next leg to keep us clear of the ice, but no one really knows where it might lie so we are going to have to bear this in mind. It’s a nasty, cold, miserable place. Why do we go there? Because if things are easy there is little satisfaction from the accomplishment.