Fleets start to make good mileage in the right direction towards second ice gate

A giant wave of relief has washed through the fleet as the wind has finally shifted to the north – allowing everyone to make good mileage in the right direction. All five boats are now pointing more or less at the second ice gate, which they must pass before they can dive south for Cape Horn.

There has been a flood of appreciative emails from crews, happy to be sailing fast after a week of slow upwind slog. On Green Dragon, navigator Wouter Verbraak wrote:

“I am feeling completely exhausted and crooked, and find myself having to pull all my will together to get the smile on my face that keeps me going. Really, banging upwind in 25 knots is just not what these boats are made for, and certainly that holds true for humans as well. In addition we are hardly making any miles toward Cape Horn, so I guess what my body is telling me is right; it is a pretty bad day all around.”

But what a difference a day makes:

“Today I couldn’t be happier? Big waves are rolling over the deck continuously,” (but not as big as the wave of relief that’s gone through the fleet, we suspect). Today we are charging south-east directly towards the ice gate, and there is no upwind sailing in sight for at least a week!”

On Ericsson 4, Ryan Godfrey (bowman) added: “Ah, what a relief. Finally the breeze has swung enough to let us ease sheets and get the good ship going fast and in the right direction. It has been days now that our distance to the finish (DTF) has not budged, so what a pleasure the past 24 hours were to be doing 20 knots and heading east.”

Aboard PUMA, they have been sailing around in a grey bubble of fog, but Media Crew, Rick Deppe wasn’t too concerned about hitting anything: “The fleet is spread out over a few hundred square miles of ocean so no danger of running into any of those guys, and any ship out here would be running the AIS (automatic identification system), so we’d pick them up, and they us long before any collision could occur.”

There is both good and bad news from Telefonica Blue. Good news – since this morning, the northerly breeze has reached them, and they are now sailing at the same fast, wide wind angle as the other boats. Bad news – they have discovered a small crack in the rig. Skipper, Bouwe Bekking reported, “we got some good photos taken, so we could all see the extent of the damage. Not good to see this kind of thing, but we saw a way to ‘relax’ that area a bit more, by adding another temporary stay… we think we can keep it under control.”

It’s not helping them go any faster though, now over 350 miles behind, and the only boat still making losses in what has otherwise been a remarkably even day’s sailing for the rest of the fleet.

Ericsson 3 has been holding a steady lead of about 130 miles from PUMA and Ericsson 4 – who are engaged in yet another close battle. Green Dragon has taken a big dive south towards Telefonica Blue, and the Dragon’s losses seem to have stabilised at about a 225 mile deficit to the leader.