With the new direct route from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro (the original longer route took the racers up past Ille de Trinidade) sailors all try to avoid the South Atlantic High pressure whilst staying as true to the rhumb line straight to Rio de Janeiro as possible.
Port Elizabeth‘s Bailes family from the Algoa Bay Yacht Club are presently on Ray of Light racing to Rio de Janeiro. As at 8:00 am this morning Ray of Light was lying in 4th position in the IRC 2 Division.
There are 6 yachts sailing in this division and their positions are as follows:
- Regardless – sailing 9.2% faster than handicap, after 681 nautical miles.
- Skitzo – sailing 4% faster than handicap, after 692 nautical miles.
- First 40 – sailing 0.1% slower than handicap, after 656 nautical miles.
- Ray of Light – sailing 8% slower than handicap, after 629 nautical miles.
- Black Cat – sailing 21.8% slower than handicap, after 501 nautical miles.
- Scatterling – sailing 40.1% slower than handicap, after 730 nautical miles.
Remember that yachts cannot sail directly to their destination so the yacht that covers the least amount of miles at the fastest pace above their handicap will be the one that wins.
Ray of light passed the abandoned Trekker 2’s lights and reported on the morning of 4 January; “All good here on Ray of Light. Been rough seas with 15-20 kts wind. Dark nights with cloud no moon – challenging! Spirits good, although we were in communication with the ship rescuing the crew from Voortrekker 2. Sad news worse still could just see the abandoned boats lights as we sailed past.”
Their update later in the day was more upbeat, though as they reported that life on board Ray of Light was slowly getting into routine.
At 09:30 on 4 January they finally turned north again and hoisted their new S4 spinnaker as they sailed through lumpy seas with progress made better by running with the swell and chop. The ever present worry of being caught in the South Atlantic high made them remark; “Hopefully we can still skirt the high pressure cell and stay in wind that suits us.”
And what would a sailing adventure be without a couple of early awards for the crew:
- Highest speed – 18.3 kts Heidi Kavanagh (afternoon of 3 January)
- Lowest speed – 5.8 kts Mike Kavanagh (early morning 3 January)
- Chunder Boss – Heidi Kavanagh
- Midnight Express – 17.4kts at night. Scary stuff!
- First Fish caught – Anthony It landed in the wheel well
- Best fisherman – Sean Kavanagh, who fished out Ants fish from the wheel well after 4 attempts fits of laughter
- Sleeping beauty- Tammy Bailes who is finally awake today to do some trimming
- Best all rounder- Siya Vato! He was up the mast fixing the missing batten car on the main.
And they signed off with the troubling news that they would have to attend to their water-maker.
Racing across the ocean is a complex balancing act as you need to save space and weight to ensure that you sail as fast as possible. Before the days of water-makers all drinking water was carried onboard – a considerable weight. With the advent of water-makers many sailors took the chance and sailed without additional water – much to their dismay many of them then realised that mechanical and electrical items do break down in the harsh sea.
Most water-makers run off of the engine. The code of honour amongst sailors is that racing yachts may start their engines to run water-makers, charge batteries but may never engage the propeller at that time.
On 5 January the news about the repair to Ray of Light’s water-maker was that it had been successfully concluded by Mike, Heidi and Siya by sacrificing the deck wash to replace the water maker pipe.
But repairs at sea always come with a toll to be paid…
Sailing on 5 January was the typical champagne sailing that all Cape to Rio sailors dream about – sparkling sea and a beautiful day with the spinnaker flying. Yes, the temptation to enjoy that all and not catch up on sleep immediately after repairing the water-maker did see the sea exact it’s toll on the night shift sailors who went into the first shift with a full main and S4 spinnaker flying beautifully. Unfortunately the waves, gusts and inattention due to tiredness ensured that the S4 wrapped around the forestay. This was unwrapped quickly but in the flogging immediately ensured that the S4 would have to be booked in for running repairs.
And then at 00:40, the vang snapped at the boom doubler which took 40 minutes to get sorted. Racing across the ocean demands all kinds of skills and the ability to remain calm.
Dawn saw another item ticked off of all sailors bucket lists as Mike landed a Dorado – fresh fish for lunch is a welcome respite. Apparently Siya had a birds eye view of the action as he was up at the top the mast laughing his head off.
The report signed off with these words; “So life at 45 degrees has changed to flat fast. Far more comfortable for all.”
If Ray of Light gets caught in the South Atlantic High on Saturday 7 December then life will become even more comfortable but a lot more frustrating. Looking at the wind for tomorrow (screengrab from WindyTV.com) one can see the large low pressure in the South squeezing the South Atlantic High right into the path of Ray of Light. One hopes that their tactics for today include going North as far as possible and not succumbing to the easy route of just following the spinnaker.
If they get caught in the high then it looks like they will slow down immensely and then only get going again late on Wednesday 11 January 2017.
Click HERE for WindyTV.com and use the indicator at the bottom of the screen to see the forecast for each day of the next seven. Watch how the shape and position of the South Atlantic High changes to get an idea of where the yachts need to go to stay in favourable winds. The high – with low to no wind – is represented in mainly blue colours with short wind trails.
Looking at the positions for today it looks like most of the fleet around Ray of Light are all going North with two yachts placed in excellent positions to take advantage of the higher winds expected farther North in: Avantii – a Vickers 41 skippered by Klaus Wiswedel (which left on 26 December 2016) and Marie Galante skippered by Paul van Tellingen.
Two yachts that may be in trouble and meet the high are Runaway and Black Pearl – although it appears that Runaway has made a sharp course change North. If Black Pearl manages to stay in the narrow band of wind South of the creeping high they will have a distinct advantage although the stomach butterflies must be making their presence known as they will be taking a ‘flyer’. In support of the ‘flyer’ theory is Weddel who also seem to be diving South and aiming for that narrow band of wind just below the rhumb line.
For my money I reckon that Avantii is in the best position to take advantage of the weather patterns for the next 7 days.
What do you think?
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