Sunrise watch ,we are upwind ,Punta a little behind , Halong bay neck and neck to leeward and Zhuhai a little behind..Inthe distance is a glow as we come closer it shows up is on ASIS and is a couple of fishing vessel.We have to bear away and in the process we lose considerable ground to the others .We get hit be a couple of squalls which initially overpower the boat followed by a lull.Jorge notes Halong Bay further to sea from the islands doing only 3 knots .We tack to come closer to the islands.Punta crosses our bow heading in Halong Bays direction.The wind gradually dies out.
As it comes back in from the North we have a decent advantage South and whilst the others get it first we get it in time to maintain our advantage.
Soon we set the code 2 spinnaker and during our watch change it for the code 3.We pull away from Zhuhai and the others.gaining 5 miles during our watch and flying the code 3 during the night and gain another 20 miles.
In the morning we are surfing our way to the East scoring gate with the boat hitting speeds of up to 19 knots and maintaining an average over 12 .As we have such a lead over 4th we gybe toward the other scoring gate. We would have to gybe anyway. And briefly Unicef appears on AIS a little ahead.
Just before scoring gate 2 we are still under the code 3 with the wind increasing .A gybe toward the line was soon necessary. The yacht hits 23 knots with Seumas at the wheel followed by a broach.It is clear the boat is overpowered and the kite needs to come down.It takes seceral attempts by the crew on the coach deck to secure the tack of the spinnaker .We then hoist the staysail and reef the main. Then we gybe.Following the gybe we hoist the yankee 1.
I take the helm soon after.The boat is nicely powered and we are getting long surfs at 15 to 17 knots .The seas have gradually built up to 2 to 4 metres. We are soon across the second scoring gate and are the third boat to cross.We set a course for VM Massey at the top of the Phillipines.
We continue in the white sail surfing conditions into the evening and sunsets and the watches after us continue into the night .The wind reduces in the norning and we emerge close to the coast
still in 3rd place with a significant lead over 4th place Korea, being further south and significantly further east.
The next 2 days are a mixture of light wind kite sailing ,light upwind ,drifting , finding the thermal winds along the coast.Eventually the race committee a series of cryptic finish lines along lines of latitude rather than perpendicular to the race course.They also don’t tell us whether we are to finish at one of the mandatory finish gates or will still finish at the original finish line.
In rhe end we are told to stop racing at the second mandatory gate 12 hours after crossing the first gate but still are not told whether the finish is at thefirst gate we have already crossed or the second The decision is too late for us to change our tactics and cover the boats behind us.The wind dies for us and Korea and Punta push us down to 5th.Despite this we finish 7 miles close than Korea and 14 miles in front of Punta in terms of distance to the next turning mark ,VM Miller. The irony is the for the boats that never make it past the finish line they will be placed according to their distance from VM Miller when the race is called.
So ends an exciting race for us, and a race well run , even though most of the crew feel like we were robbed of third place.