Well Clipper called it race 9 because it is before race 10 ,but it is after race 7 and now there is no race 8. So the coronavirus is still rife everywhere, though it now seems under control in China but less under control in Europe ,especially Italy ,and we just can’t know about the USA,and it seems Seattle and Washington state have more cases than anywhere .And here in the Philippines they declare a state of public health emergency after only 10 cases.And our other possible destinations ,South Korea has now thousands of cases ,and Japan around a thousand cases and also there would be issues with Visas for Japan.
So again Clipper send us on an out and back from the Phillipines. This time they’re calling it a ‘sprint’ race ,750 miles ,just a little longer than a Sydney Hobart race or a Fastnet race. And there will be 3 ocean sprints for bonus points ,of around 200 miles and you can enter 2.
So the start is a Le Mans style start and would have been in the daylight at 1700 but one yacht has a problem with their motor after leaving the pontoons and the start gets delayed to 1900 ,so it is a Le Mans start in the dark. In the meantime we have left the marina at 1030 so there is refresher sail ,for the joining crew, and man overboard drills.
The moon rises blood red in time for our start . We make a good hoist of the headsails during the start but our staysail is not sheeted in quickly enough that our speed is not enough to prevent us getting blanketed by the next boat to windward.
Our start is a reasonable one however and after the 10 minutes we have to hold our course we come up as close to 270 degrees as we can which is the course for the sprint.
Most of the fleet seems to hold a lower course and do so for the rest of the night.I go off watch with us to windward of the fleet and seeming to be in a good position and in the front 3.
On our morning watch the code 2 is up in a moderate breeze and we have Punta just to leeward and Qingdao behind and to leeward.
We maintain good course for most of the watch .Unfortunately a kite collapse towards the end of the watch allows Punta to pull ahead by half a mile and Qingdao to catch up a little but is still behind us .
Really we were in a good position having crossed the sprint start 3 minutes after the other 2,all we had to do was maintain the current position for 3 points.
A luffing duel with Qingdao and a shift of the breeze to behind us allows some of the fleet behind us to catch up and Punta to distance themselves .After gybing for the sprint gate we have to go behind Bermuda which pushes us back to Dare to lead and Halong bay . Things went rapidly from a possibe 3 points to probably none.
After the sprint finish we gain back ground on the 6 mile reach to the next mark. The next evolution appears to go well , the Yankee goes up and the kite comes down in good time.While the kite is coming down we hear a sickening sound of something breaking we realise someone is grinding the staysail sheet ,instead of the drop line ,the staysail is on the deck .After hoisting the staysail we find a 30 cm long tear in the front of the sail .
The next leg at this point looks like a long starboard tack. We keep pace with the fleet initially but some helming errors later on our watch sees Bermuda and Halong bay to slip away to leeward. We keep our higher course.
In the middle of all this Seumas infroms Qingdao they missed the mark. On the way back to re round the Chris Brooks thanks Seumas for his sportsmanship in informing him early and not waiting the 6 hours we could have of intention to lodge a protest .
This race has been the closest yet as everytime we are up on deck the fleet is all around us and mostly within eyesight ,whereas other races you would occasionally see another yacht.
Winds dying again.
Kept moving overnight on the 2nd leg of our 3 leg race. Woke up to us being in 6th place but most of the yachts well to leeward. We would gain a little on Halong Bay and they’d pullback away again.
The wind gradually drops over the course of our watch from 11 knots down to six.
On the next watch it continues to die out and windseeker is hoisted in lieu of the yankee and staysail.
It’s going to be a long day.
And the long day continued.
And when we came on watch in the evening and wind started to slowly pick up. Finally 2 hours in we swapped to the code 1 from the windseeker. And we just seemed to get quicker in the light airs . We go past Dare to Lead and leave them behind and seem to be slowly catching Halong Bay ,and keeping pace with the rest.
I go to bed with hope