Mike Sanderson with the ups and downs of life aboard ABN AMRO 1

As professional sailors, it’s our job I guess to try and make it all seem smooth. Normally if it is all going smoothly then it is generally all going well. What this often leads to though unlike rugby or something where you can see the dramas unfolding, in sailing we tend to gloss over the dramas when talking about it so that we seem the more “well oiled machine”. I thought I might put a slightly different spin on today’s update and just let you know exactly how much we have had on here.

Start day, the worry of getting out of the Bay in such light airs, we know
the boat is no rocket in under 7/8 knots of wind, so it was always going to be tough against the narrower Farr Boats.

Park up at wing mark, collision with Ericsson, protests called for on both parties. We are the only boat to do circles, so clearing ourselves from the incident, no other boats do turns, even though Ericsson goes on to have another incident with Brasil 1.

Slopping in no wind, put two holes in our code 0 where the sail missed the spreader patches.

Got caught in the new south-easterly with a full size reacher on in 30 knots of wind! During the change split the leech of the jib a metre, now we have two damaged sails and we are only two hours in to the leg…

Can’t do the change upwind as now it is puffing over 30 knots and the damaged reacher is starting to get worse. Bearing away in over 30 knots, reacher didn’t get enough ease and mainsail did a nasty flick and broke the bottom batten.

Finally get the right sails up and then we are in catch up mode. Have worked our way back up to second spot with good speed upwind and then start losing boats – can’t work it out. Finally find the most massive clump of Kelp right at the top of the keel. Jib down sail backwards off kelp. Catch up mode once again.

That night fairly un-eventful, apart from of course tacking four times and about six sail changes.

Next day, breeze builds all day. Have Pirates and Ericsson in front of us that we can see, going fast and pass them? nice feeling.

Boat with same sail combination as inshore race, we pull out nicely, just settling down now after a very windy tack, with breezes up to 30 knots and
a big bang. Structure under the deck that holds the tie rod for the No 4 jib fails and the fitting starts ripping out of the deck.

Full action now to save what’s left and the sail. Get the No 4 rolled up and down and decide since the same structure holds down our staysail that we have to lug the J2.

About an hour in with the J2 and the tack pad eye on the jib cunningham snaps. Manage to rig a jury system around the headstay chainplate. What’s next! Luckily nothing. The rest of the night is un-eventful and we go well on the fleet.

The new day brings lightening airs, two of the boats don’t make it through though, and our hearts go out to them. I am sure they have had as hectic time as us since leaving Cape Town and so to then have something happen which makes you have to pull out of the race is awful. We hope they can make speedy repairs and get back out here.

With the lightening breeze, it is all action stations here, whenever we get light airs there is one team racing the boat and there is another team fixing it. Tony (Mutter) has fixed the sails. All done and back up and running. Dave (Endean) Jan (Dekker) and myself have been working on the No 4 structure and it looks like we can get that back to 100 per cent. We dropped two reefs in to the main and replaced the broken batten.

Meanwhile as all this is going on, the guys are still racing hard, it’s almost like the big man above gave us a little light airs to re-group before we get in to the heavy running. Whatever the case is, we have certainly appreciated it.

So, next time I say that it has been hectic out here, but don’t go in to the details, then you will be able to use this as a guide line, and to any of the reports on the other boats that say how it is all being going smoothly. Well, I will leave it to you, but if they have been going upwind in big breeze with some strong currents, don’t believe them.

All in all it’s good to be back into our little world, and today we found the NZ sweets that Crusty (Mark Christensen) stashed on board… we love Pinapple Lumps

Talk soon

Mike Sanderson – skipper