Brian Thompson, skipper aboard the Oryx Quest yacht Doha 2006, sent yachtingworld.com his latest report
All good on board Doha 2006; we have spent a lot of hours getting the boat ready for the Southern Ocean. Restacking all the gear and completely getting on top of the job list. The next section of the race has begun. Cape Horn is our next goal (with an eye to the Amundsen Trophy, for the first to 173E), and we have to sail fast and safe.
Everything on board is in perfect shape except for the Fleet 77, the high-speed phone line, that is housed in the large dish at the stern of the boat. This got flooded in the rough conditions of the last few days so no high speed internet can be accessed and no video footage can be sent off the boat. It’s a real shame, but we have other backup communication devices, although they are a lot slower, so we will not be getting all the information that we would really want.
The team is doing a fantastic job, everyone looking after his or her responsibilities as well as sailing the boat as efficiently as possible. It always helps to get back into the lead and morale is high on board.
It’s been a very rough few days on the wind from 10S to 30S, crossing the SE tradewinds. We have been playing a balancing act the entire time of keeping the correct speed. Not too fast to leap off the waves constantly and fast enough to stay in the race. With the windspeeds changing and the seastate changing constantly we went through a lot of sail changes, from two reefs and staysail to three reefs and storm jib. It was a relief to get that section over because it was a real boatbreaker.
We were also trying to push south ahead of Geronimo to get the Southern Ocean first, and in this we got lucky and were just far enough west to go around the back of a high pressure system. Geronimo to the east had lighter winds last night and we managed to sail around the outside of her.
Now it is fantastic downwind sailing with the big reacher and full main up. We are in blue sky, but keeping pace with us to the south-west is a band of clouds signifying an approaching cold front. This is going to pass over us later today and like any front is going to provide pouring rain, squalls and a rapid windshift. In the Southern hemisphere the windshift is to the south-west, bringing polar air in from Antarctica. So its all change later, with thermals and balaclavas going on and the tropical gear stowed away till Uruguay.
25 knots downwind beats 14 knots upwind any day of the week, so here we go! Welcome to the sleighride east, and our adventure is about to get a whole lot more intense!