Downwind Sailing and Kites

For the last three days it has been down wind sailing. Right now we have C2
the medium weight kite hoisted and Jamaica is plunging and twitching with
the swell which while not small is manageable. It is the most strange
sensation, surreal even – it really does feel like Jamaica is alive. The
sense of power in the boat manifesting as groans and shutters and ever
forward motion.

We are holding our position against Old Pulteney who materialised on the
horizon as the sun set yesterday and are currently behind us off our port
stern. When you can see the opposition it sort of makes the race real. We
are going well – 14 knots. It feels like we are racing and that feels good.

The wind having been relatively constant (from the NW/NNW) life has been
relatively plain sailing as we need to travel south. The most we have had
to do so far is hoist and occasionally change the spinnaker we are using –
medium weight (C2)/heavy weight (C3)- depending on the conditions.

Kite changes are a whole new area of quarts and pint pots – the sails are
very large and the area inside the boat not so, which makes for some very
interesting logistics and a lot of sweating! Spinnakers are ‘woolled’ –
tied into long sausages with knitting wool ties every meter along their
length – this is to make for easy launching. The halyard and sheets are
attached and as the sail goes up it bursts open and fills with wind
instantly – extremely impressive when done correctly. Getting these sails
down either into the sail locker hatch or through ‘the letter box’ and into
the galley is something else. All the watch are on hand to pull-in or
receive the sail to stop it collapsing into the water + under the boat (not
good). Action is frantic and when done well you really feel like you have
worked as a team. Once down it then befalls the receivers to re-wool the
sail – which given the areas in question is a hot and arduous task – pack
it away in the sail bag ready for the next launch. Being little I am one of
the receivers – you will probably think me nuts – but I really felt proud
this morning watching the C2 go out, the sail I had spent 2 hours earlier
this morning woolling. Personal victories are small but significant.

So here we are 28 degrees N/ 119 degrees W and making our way to the first
racing gate. The boats are relatively close-packed there being only 20
miles across the whole fleet, but right now we can only see OP.

Got to get there fast and first if we are going to score so we are no
longer just sailing but racing.

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