A New Start

beer

While sitting out the worst of the storm I slept twice for an hour each. To date on the race I had’t slept for more than a half hour at a time. So needless to say after two full hours sleep I was up for anything! As soon as the breeze started to veer I was going again, and pushing hard…

The night was extremely tough, with both sea and air temperatures really low, and 30+knts of wind sustained until dawn. When preparing for this race I knew it would be cold. Very cold. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how it could be so cold and so humid. 99% relative humidity all night long. Added to that it was during this dark cold storm I have to navigate the worst of the ice field. There was one stage where it was almost impossible to look upwind as the coldness hurt the skin on my face so much, and I was right in the middle of an area that over the last week recce flights had spotted a dozen or so icebergs.

Thankfully I didn’t see any. I’m not sure whether it was because I just missed them, or it was too dark to make them out, or the seas too rough, or whatever. I don’t care to be honest! By dawn I was rapidly heading for the East side of the limit of known ice and I was glad to see the back of that part of the world. “Inhospitable to humans” is the way I believe the ancient explorers used to describe places like that.

At the same time I crossed that huge psychological barrier of only having 1,000nm left to go to the finish line. I waited anxiously to see how much time I had lost while stopped, but when the 08.00 sched came in I was pleased to find that my losses were minimal, and I was still first in class. Despite having to throttle back for a while, the gamble of going North around the centre of the low had paid off. I was also pleased to come through with no breakages or damage, apart from a few bruises that will definately last a while. When I read today about some of the experiences of the other skippers out there I knew I had made the right decision last night.

As the day progressed, the breeze gradually died, and the temperature gradually rose. My kind of day! Although I was becalmed for a few hours in the late afternoon, that particular area of calms will cross everybodies path, so I decided to enjoy it. I cooked a special meal, cleaned and tidied the boat (things had been thrown everywhere during the storm), took some rest, changed all my clothes as I had been drenched during the night, and then sat back to admire the ocean and have a drink to celebrate the end of
the ice, and less than 1,000nm to go.

As of 16.00 today I have 919 miles to go, and a healthy lead over most of my class. The only wildcard is Oscar Meade on “King of Shaves”, currently further North than me, who has been having electronics problems, and hasn’t been able to report his positions effectively. I’m not sure exactly where he is, but I believe he is very close behind me. I’ve raced against Oscar in the past and he’s one of the best out here, so it will be interesting to see what happens when he appears again.

The next couple of days should bring lighter steadier winds, which suits me down to the ground. I much prefer to race tactically rather than physically, so it should be fun.

Cheers everybody!

Barry