Yachitng World's Mike Kopman is aboard the VO60 Spirit currently dashing across the Atlantic at the head of the ARC racing fleet
Still thundering along at 13 knots under main, spinny and staysail. Good times for the watch on deck, less enjoyable for those trying to sleep below.
Sittting at the chart table beneath the cockpit, I’m being tossed about from side to side as the helmsman ‘waggles’ the wheel, cajoling the boat onto a surf.
Today was a day of typically gorgeous trade wind sailing: shirts off, kite full, sun beating down, and a few rain squalls lurking to keep us on our toes. Spirit is loving the conditions, and we’re loving sailing her. She accelerates so effortlessly, and can be popped onto the smallest of waves with a quick jink to windward. Then you crank the wheel to leeward and you’re blasting off downhill.
Big news is that we’re lying first! (Not that this is a race of course…) We broke from discussions about 40 knot chain ferries, and including an onion in your sack of potatoes to make them last longer, to cheer oursuccess. The things you find to talk about on watch. I’m sure most of the world’s problems could be solved by a mid Atlantic think-tank.
We’ve had an interesting couple of nights, with mid watch gybes and spinnaker peels calling for all hands and bringing half the crew grumbling from their bunks. The gybes are particularly interesting. There’s so much to do on these Volvo 60s. We’re carrying asymmetrical spinnakers only, so you’d think that would make things simpler, but they’re tacked to a conventional spinaker pole that has to be removed, taken aft along the deck, and then forward again on the new side. The lazy sheet is normally kept ready for a ‘letter box’ drop between the boom and mainsail foot, so this has to be re-run as the new sheet.
Then there’s the runnners, which have a separate hydraulic attachment for the topmast runners that has to be removed and reattached, and of course the water ballast. When you’re doing 15 knots in the middle of the night, it’s quite an exercise in team work. Our practice day has proved invaluable and there’ve been no major catastrophes.
We passed a slower yacht this evening… obviously not one of the ARC fleet, unless there’ve been some real tall stories told come position reporting time. We tried to call them up on VHF but there was no answer despite passing within half a mile. No sign of any rowing boats yet tho’.
So that’s it for now. The grinders are tiring and I need to go do some real work on deck. Yoyo, Manfred wants you to know he’s doing the washing up, and Ros says hi to her mum! Goodnight.