Port Elizabeth‘s Bailes family who sail out of the Algoa Bay Yacht Club on their Fast 42, named Nemesis are racing on Ray of Light from Cape to Rio. They left on 1 January 2017 and as at 7:00 am today were at S23°2’20.0? W005°5’39.0? with 2137.7 nautical miles to go to the finish in Rio de Janeiro. Only when they hit the less than 1 625 nautical miles to go mark can we consider them to have passed the half way mark and psychological ‘point-of-no-return’.
The 28 boat fleet is divided into 5 divisions and each yacht in each division receives a handicap. Ray of Light is in the IRC Division Two with 5 other boats. In effect they are having a race within a race. As a rule of thumb – the longer yachts get more onerous handicaps. The two main prizes everyone in the race is focused on are: First across the Line and First on Handicap.
At 7:00 am today yacht Runaway – a 70 foot Andrews Design sailing out of the Waikiki Yacht Club USA, skippered by Hector Velarde with 1 308 nautical miles to go to the finish is the leading yacht most likely to grab the honours as the First over the Line. The next closest competitor to Runaway is Black Pearl – a 47 footer with 1 462 nautical miles to go. Both are in the top division of IRC Division One with 9 other yachts. As an illustration of handicapping – at present Black Pearl leads the fleet on handicap followed by Lion of Africa Vulcan (Hylton Hale’s 42 foot yacht with 1645.68 nautical miles to go to Rio) and then the ‘leading’ boat Runaway.
In the IRC Division Two the present positions on Handicap are:
- Raymarine Regardless – sailing at 2.3% faster than handicap
- First 40 – sailing at 5.7% slower than handicap
- Blue Label Telecoms Skitzo- – sailing at 8.2% slower than handicap
- Black Cat – sailing at 12.8% slower than handicap
- Ray of Light – sailing at 17% slower than handicap
- Team UCT powered by BG – sailing at 45.4% slower than handicap
A bit disappointing for our ABYC sailors as they have dropped two places to fifth, but it is still along way to go.
Looking at the wind patterns up to Wednesday it looks like Ray of Light can expect slow progress for the next two days. If they can keep their westerly course up they may hit a decent patch of wind on Wednesday for some perfect spinnaker sailing. Thursday looks like a day for reaching, on Friday they will have to resist following the spinnaker and sailing down to the rhumb line, though.
In IRC Division One it still appears that Pinto Russell Marie Galante and Black Pearl are diving South for a Narrow band of wind on the rhumb line. This will give them a boost on Tuesday over all the other yachts. Although on Wednesday it appears that the wind will drop drastically, give them false hope on Thursday and die again on Friday. BUT Saturday and Sunday will give good opportunity to reach in good wind along the rhumb line (the shortest straight distance from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro). Whether that will be enough to make up the losses from this week remains to be seen.
Ray of Light are still upbeat as these two ‘dispatches’ indicate:
Update received 6 Jan 17:30:
Ah, so the Champagne sailing continues. However, champagne clearly is not served at night!
After an eventful evening we decided to tone it down for the night. This meant full main Dacron 4 Jib poled out. Typical cruising technique for an easy night. Felt like the hand brake had been pulled all felt slightly deflated. But then, our angles were spot on to what we wanted plus the boat speed stayed in the 8-10 kts range with odd surf in between. In fact so stable and pleasant that cock pit cushions had appeared.
Not to stay though, at about 03:20 the now mended kicking strap strop snapped and left again with a mainsail getting seriously damaged on the top batten area. So, all night shift crew on deck and the plan was made. Take the pole off the jib and drop the mainsail to make repairs to the kicking strap again. Unfortunately the jib wrapped by the time the pole was dropped delicately on the deck. This followed a battle to get the jib down. Mainsail was dropped in now very bumpy conditions as we bounced around in the waves upwind. Once the sail was securely on the deck and a halyard used as a topping lift (the kicking strap strut is in Kavanagh bunk). Jib hoisted again and we limped back on course slowly, waiting for daylight to drill holes in the doubler on the boom where the strut was before.
Sounds simple, daylight and the repairs were done. Simple enough. Unfortunately in the dark, the halyard used as the topping lift had snagged the jib halyard and possibly some others. Siya started out in his deck kit – harness! To add to the early morning shenanigans the halyard that was topping lift flew out and was wildly swinging into our much treasured mainsail! Up the mast went Siya to sort out the halyard snags.
Yay, all done, gybe and pop up the A3 to get the slower night miles made up again. Finally starboard tack. The A3 went up, but did not give us the poling out option. Drat, had to come down. ALL HANDS ON DECK! Dragging Jenna and Tammy out of bed to help to pull in our A3.
Awesome job, spinnaker not even wet! Repacked by Jenna and Tammy under Siya’s supervision and let’s get going again! Up and flying to find the retrieval line had knotted. Oh boy! Take it down again and repack again and hoist again!
Finally going again, heading northwards to escape the high pressure (aka no wind..) at our heels. Wow, it is now only 09:40! Very busy start to our champagne sailing day. Coffee breakfast time. Yay!
Great thought, starboard tack has now upended our marvelously organized chaos downstairs. Seriously looked like Jenna and Tammy’s bedrooms…..
Finally sorted and the night shift could get some rest.
Highlight of the day? A shower on the back of the boat for the girls and Sean. Even washed our hair! Luxurious indeed. The water maker is working well so a real luxury. Even if it was an army style 2-minute shower.
So onwards and northwards is the plan. Stay in wind is the plan. Get to Rio is the plan…..
Update Received 7 Jan 21:50:
Mini celebration! We crossed the meridian last night. Jenna Tammy joined us on deck during our watch to capture the moment.
A quiet calm evening with absolutely no problems last night! The repaired kicking strap is looking good. We did go into the night with more repairs just at sundown to the main sail. The fitting into the top bat car needed to be replaced again, and while the sail was down, some more patching where it is chafing the spreaders. Good to go with a conservative full main and no 4 jib poled out.
Good to say, plain sailing today indeed. Full main, A3 out on a pole with the spinnaker staysail working wonders. The wind died down in the afternoon we decided to go with the new S1. All kids on deck – no wet spinnaker!
So all went to plan – furl the staysail, A3 came down, the S1 went up, repacked the A3, changed minds, S1 came down, A3 back up, repack S1, rig gybe preventer again, clean up sheets, stow halyards and good to go. Just like that !! Thank goodness for many young deckhands.
Heidi baked an onion sundried tomato beer bread. Not sure where those beers are stashed??
We are looking forward to a quiet night with A3, full main and stay sail. Average of 7 -10 knots should be good for the night. We will reassess the westwards gybes in the morning.
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