So on sunrise watch we are within 10 miles of the Southeastern Mark of the Nan Sei islands ,within 1 nautical mile of Punta and Zhuhai 1.3 miles behind and catching.us. Before the mark we plug in the code 2 spinnaker, then finally drop the staysail.As we get to the mark ,Punta stand on ,we go behind their stern and hoist the code 3 and end up 2 miles ahead.Zhuhai miss the mark and have to go back and re round.. Part way along the next leg we gybe and appear to be going well but a windshift near the next mark allows Punta to catch up. They are just behind and to leeward.The wind has come round so we are on a very close reach.We both go for the hoist yankee drop kite .Punta get the better of this one and come up to windward when our kite gets slightly stuck. Punta though has missed the mark! The evening is an upwind trying to stay closer to the islands to avoid the worst of the current .We hit a squall and have to do several tacks to get a favorable course. By watch end we catch halong bay
26 27 Feb We continue our upwind course toward Taiwan putting in a long starboard tack trying to stay higher than our competitors Zhuhai and Seattle just behind . We spot land which are some small island off the Sotheast tip of Taiwan We put in a series of tacks and have the aim of going paralell to the line of the sprint zone heading East till we find favouable breeze to cross it and head for the Nan Sei islands. Early on the 27th we hit more breeze and put in a reef ,proceeding under yankee 2 and staysail. Round lunchtime we hit squally wet winds from the northeast at 20 to 30 knots and put in a second reef. It is warm and sticky down below ,awkward to do things because of the heel in the windward conditions and wet and cool on deck. We continue East. Tonight at watch change Jorge said to me Rick we’ll just put in a tack. So our watch is getting ready to go down and the others are coming up. It is dark and windy by the way. So I say ready to tack runner back ,nothing happens so ,I say it again ,someone comes back to the runner but nothing else happens, at the top of my voice WE ARE GOING TO TACK DON’T ANYONE GO ANYWHERE ,WHO IS ON THE PORT RUNNER, again WHO IS ON THE PORT RUNNER ? finally someone appears , ARE YOU READY ON YANKEE SHEETS, a feeble reply of no happens ,GUYS GET READY TO TACK ,( I am about to lose it ) Finally ARE YOU READY TO Tack ,Yes ,and we tack.I think they thought if Jorge wasnt up there so I wasnt serious ! How can it take so long for 2 watches to get ready for a simple evolution. Anyway we now are clearly sailing into the monsoon and we are making ground.
And I wake and one hour ago we have entered the ocean sprint and we are sailing just off close hauled with one reef in the main and staysail and yankee 2.And I take the helm from Seamus and says just steer North,000 ,and we mem out X not be far from shaking the reef out.And the boat seems happy at firstf but in lulls she in underpowered. It is clear we need to shake the reef out,which we do.We are then making greater than 11 knots in the right direction.
And at end of Ocean sprint we are in company with Zhuhai and Punta. A Japanese coast guard jet aircraft passes over and radios Zhuhai.They find out about our race then wish us luck.Then return flying rather low over us.
Still have the 0800 to 1200 watch which ends up as the sunset watch , and 2000 to 2400 which ends up the dawn watch.Our sunset watch sees some nice upwind sailing in 10 to 13 knots with the boat doing 8 to 9 knotsn though we stay on port tack and bear away a little to maintain speed.Seattle and WTC are visible to port and are both would clearly be in front we tacked.Seattle seem to sail lower and end up tacking away after they come within half a mile of our beam. WTC get knocked badly falling well behind and eventually tack away The breeze gradually drops away to 8 to 10 knots after sunset. I have a bit of nerve racking time when on port tack we cross in front of the red lights of Halong Bay and Zhuhai ,us having made up considerable ground .Halong Bay radio us before we cross I think to put some doubt in our mind as to whether we were clear ahead.
An hour later from my bunk I hear some yelling. Both us and Halong Bay have tacked back with us having right of way on starboard. There is a near collision as we come up on the breeze and they tack away.They radio us apparently to ask whether they should perform a penalty turn. We decline.One could argue they should have done it anyway. Our sunrise watch was a very light wind affair trying somehow to fill the kite and the swell collapsing it.A following current ensures a pace close to 2 knots .Finally at the watch end we get some breeze and are making 5 knots. The sched show 4 boats inshore and ahead and us in a group of 4 boats. It is anyones race.
25/2/2020 So the yachts inshore despite having to come out 30 miles to get to the mark at the top of Luzon find a breeze that pulls them out of there .The breeze gradually freshens during the afternoon and we are hard on the breeze getting to the mark and maintain our 5th place ahead of Zhugai and Seattle.Into the night the breeze freshens further and goes more east. The evening watches swap the yankee 3 in for the yankee 1 and end up with 2 reefs in the main Our sunset watch the yacht already feels under powered when I take the helm with the wind dropping to 18 then 16 , in the s end we shake out both reefs.The yacht is moving along nicely and we manage to point high enough to increase our windward distance from Zhuhai and Seattle. This will become important when we tack ŕeast up near Taiwan. Life downstairs has become a challenge again with the constant heel on starboard tack.
With corona virus still an issue ,race 7 became a race out around the Nan Sei islands near Taiwan then returning back to Subic Bay. Hopefully this gives Clipper time to work out where to go next.The parade of sail was in crowded space with very few spectators. During our mock man overboard drill ,I took the opportunity of getting a swim in the warm (26.5 deg) tropical waters. The race was a downwind start and we took a conservative approach setting the yankee 1 with the intention of hoisting the kite after gybing round the first mark. Some of those setting the kite early did get a little ahead but not all. It was a fast start with us doing 11 to 12 knots once the kite was set. Then the wind died .We were able to see it coming and sailed a little higher to get around some of the fleet.The fleet basically all came together .It was as if we were almost lined up east to west and were doing a Le Mans start. Some of us had dropped kites some not. Punta sqeezed down past us under kite but we were then able to come past their stern and get ahead and to windward under white sails.The official sched at the end of our watch had us in first . The fickle breeze overnight saw lots of changes . I woke up to go on watch and we get on deck and we have WTC to port and slightly behind. We work hard to keep the boat moving gradually gaining on those in front and behind. But we are going slightly west of north while the rest of the fleet are more
to the east inshore The wind dies on us and our gains are evaporated with the leaders gaining 8 miles on us. Our watch and our next support watch sees the kite up and down several times More wind changes and the fleet almost comes back together again. Certainly the inshore route looks like the way to go up the coast of Luzon island. Time will tell.