Steve is only 300 miles from the finish, but is slamming upwind into a nasty swell

Steve White is fighting the angles today as he beats upwind to try and make the best time to Les Sables d’Olonne to secure eighth place in the Vendée Globe. White has 434 miles to sail this afternoon but is still slamming upwind into a nasty swell. In his latest blog, he writes:

“Since I added Flores in the Azores to the list of islands I have seen on my little tour progress has been pretty slow. Sam sent me an email as she went through the Azores and said she was going well in thirty five knots of breeze, but why was there always an island in the way? It’s true though, I’ve seen or had to avoid Madeira, the Canaries, the Kerguelens, Staten Island, Cape Horn which is an island, Fernando de Norohna and then the Azores – three months and not a continent to be seen, just about one island a week though!”

“I got another fishy visitor not long after leaving he Azores who was really unusual. He was obviously tuna family from the pyramidal ridges down his back behind his dorsal fin, but he was really thin like a garfish, and had a very long beak which was like a sail makers needle at it’s tip, and pretty fine all the way down too, and about as long as my index finger and gently curving upwards. The whole fish was about a foot long. I suppose he used it for spear fishing like a mini marlin or something, curious anyway. Something else to look up when I get home – I took some photos.”

“I am really looking forward to getting in now. I’m currently pounding down towards Cape Finisterre where it is always windier than everywhere else, and sure enough I have just had twenty eight knots on the nose – not ideal with a broken inner forestay from which the staysail is currently flying, a repaired gooseneck and generally lots of other bits that have now done nearly twenty six thousand miles or whatever it is, and could do without being slammed about. Where the bottom of the boat is so flat, it slams like a tea tray and you do actually get a headache from the sudden stop that the boat comes to every few seconds and the bang that accompanies it.”

I can’t quite win though weather-wise. We have a good wind angle down here but a bad sea state for the boat at this point in the race, and if we tack to the north east, the breeze slowly dies as we approach the high, particularly at night, and then in light airs my tacking angles become huge – over one hundred and twenty degrees, so it’s really frustratingly slow progress – a seven hundred mile dead beat to windward for the finish, who’d have though it!”

“The weather is definitely giving me a hard time still. Maybe it’s because I need to learn more patience, but I could do with that lesson after the race! It is frustrating with the clan all gathered in Les Sable and me under four hundred miles away – in the South we’d have done that distance in just over a day, but here…… won’t be until Thursday morning now I think….aaaaaargh! Being dead downwind of Les Sable I can smell the beer and pizzas, or maybe it’s my imagination; not long now though, not long.”