Dodging squalls

I am at that stage of tiredness where I am not quite to sure when the days
begin and end and when I say something whether or not I am repeating
myself.

The weather has been a real mixed bag of either good winds or wind holes –
it has been a really frustrating race. When we can sail we have been
sailing well but there have been extended periods of simply going nowhere +
wallowing. Last night we spent the night trying to avoid squalls. The radar
showed that there were some quite massive ones out there + quite frankly
being flattened as opposed to being becalmed did not seem such a great
option so we went for a bit of dodging, tacking + reefing. Even so there
were some hairy moments + we did get dumped on. Facing squalls is (I
imagine) a bit like trench warfare – you’re dug in + a lot of stuff you
don’t want comes your way + you just do your best to survive it.

Open ocean sailing is a bit like being a member of the emergency services –
extended periods of inactivity followed by intense periods of the
proverbial hitting the fan. I am still a sufficiently novice sailor that
every sailing crisis sees me terrified trying my best to remember the
correct number of turns on the winch/how quickly to release the relevant
sheet or halyard or doing by best to grind at the require rate – I still
get the impression that I am seen as more of a liability than an asset
(basically I am too little + too light to do many of the jobs at the
efficiency + speed required). But I am good at remembering to do the ship’s
log on the hour + make hot drinks – so I do these + hey-ho to the macho
image of rugged mariner.

This morning we heard that the organisers have shortened the race to New
York so (as of this evening) we have just 60 miles to go to the finishing
line.

We now have wind + once again close hauled are making good going. As a crew
we are still mentally racing even though the extended wind holes we managed
to explore did nothing for our chances of a podium position. The schedules
(known as ‘sheds’) every 6 hours keep us abreast of the progress of the
others + we know our relative speed – when not drifting – is good. The
latest sched is just in + the young bucks crack tactics team is analysing
what to do. Each 6 hours we are making ground on the leaders … but will
we overhaul the chaps in front before they get to the finish? We are still
hoping to better our 6th place. Strategic tacks + wind holes – all part of
the final day of what is turning out to be quite a tactical race. All this
plotting actually makes the sailing quite fun.

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