Canaries to the Scoring Gate

19th September

Woke to another day of downwind sailing under spinnaker. Always wanted to go to the Canary Islands but we sailed past them during the night. We continue on down the African coast in company of Halong Bay ,Dare to lead and Qingdao. We gain on Halong Bay who gybe and cross 1.8 miles behind us. Despite this the sched puts them ahead of us ,and Punta in 1st who are a long way North west and are going through the Canaries rather than inside them.The conditions are pleasant with warmish but not hot temperatures and a 15 to 20 knot breeze.
Guess we will know all when we turn further west. The brownies we cooked on support are a hit at lunchtime
Wind freshening a little during the day ,just over 20 knots when we came on watch and I took the helm . Yacht beautifully balanced and relatively easy to steer a course . Keeping pace with Halong Bay who were alongside 1 mile to windward . Then we notice they wrap their kite and soon we are 8 miles in front . We have one round up where the kite wasn’t sheeted in quickly enough and the helm loses control and we dump the vang. Otherwise all our helms and kite trimmers do really well.
Interesting near broach at watch change just after the helm swap , watch change is always an interesting affair!
Scheds put us in 3rd but none is in front of us !

20th September Spinnaker Trouble

Awoke at 2 am to the sound of the code 2 about to come down , wind too strong so code 3 to go up. Can never get back to sleep when this occurs and the people who are going to organise breakfast are now busy with the spinnaker so I get up and start ‘running the edges’ so it can be re-packed and then fix some minor repairs that had been done previously. Hear the code 3 going up and shortly the call for for more hands on deck to get it down as it has torn . The damage is disastrous it has ripped from head to clew.
So no spinnaker for our watch which means2 to 3 knots slower. We were almost certainly leading the race when it happened .
Toward the end of our 0400 0800 watch we prepare the re-packed code 2 for launching and it is hoisted at watch change . Back racing .
Then we spend hours in the sail locker repairing the spinnaker which is likely to take 2 days.
Back on deck at 1600 the boat hums along under code 2 in 20 25 knots but we know it is on the limit.We’re now heading toward the scoring gate 500 miles away in the Atlantic.
We cover almost 50 miles on our watch and fortunately the wind has dropped a bit and we should be able to carry the code 2 overnight. We’re happy to get through our watch steering a good course and not breaking anything.

21st September

Nice watch this morning broad reaching on starboard gybe ,knocked late in the morning and gybed onto a very favourable port gybe. Wind decreased from 20 to 15 knots. Flying fish hitting the deck not infrequently. Scheds put us in 1st ahead of Qingdao by 15 to 20 miles . If we get a windshift back and gybe on it will be well clear .
Weather getting hotter ,and very light wind patch for the lunchtime watches.
Lost Ollie to the sail repair team and Seumas was assisting him our whole watch. Wind dropping a bit early in the watch increasing later on with 15 to 19 knots at end of shift , sailing under the code 2 just below the bearing to the scoring gate . 1800 sched puts us in first with Qingdao in stealth mode. Got all our watch through the helm Ivy , Carl , Michelle ,Dennis ,me and no spinnaker collapses or flogging but poor Ollie was sweating it out in the sail locker. And Mary had a shower on deck next to Ollie having a smoke . And 3 swallows landed on the outhaul

22nd September First to Scoring Gate

Similar sailing conditions ,downwind with code 2 ,bit of a sea state making steering difficult when wind is light and sky dark. Bit more breeze in the middle of shift then dropping off. Raise support for gybe at 0700 . Then on support get up twice for gybes . We are first through the scoring gate with Qingdao 13 miles behind now and we are heading for Cape Verde Islands
Weather really warming up but very pleasant on deck in the evening. Busy 4 to 8 watch this evening Code 3 repaired and Code 2 noted to have small holes . Code 2 dropped and Code 3 hoisted . Code 2 repaired and re-packed ,2 hours later code 3 down code 2 back up . Yacht feeling really balanced now and nice to steer ,lost a little to Qingdao ,hopefully can now hold them off an route through Verde Islands and on to the Doldrums corridor.

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