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3 November Atlantic Storm

So by storm I refer to the wind strength. Force 11 on the Beaufort scale is just below 64 knots at which Force 12 is a hurricane. This night we recorded peak gust of 62 knots. The amazing was how the yacht handled it. I reproduce my email to home which never got there as our system went down.

Hi all just weathering out another Atlantic storm .Was trying to send an email last night just in case! Wind was around 45 knots when I got to the helm last night After we’d run deep to get the staysail down I got back on course and boat was getting uncontrollable. First mate took helm but had to sail much
deeper than our set course . Soon after this we broached and the yacht sat nearly on her side for a long period of time before getting control. We then just ran nearly straight downwind till the squalls abated . Peak gusts were 60 knots. Peak speed 25.We had completely depowered the triple reefed main. All was a little bit scary in the dark. Took the wheel back for the last hour and it was then a bit of fun surfing down the waves at close to 20 knots.
We’re fastest so far in the sprint all but Qingdao look catchable overall. The 35 to 40 knots outside seems calm now .
Hope all is good at home. Just trying to stay safe . Cv29 is looking after us.
love Rick

1 to 3 November

1 November

The sea is still running with 3 metre waves but wind gradually easing. Reefs in the main have been shaken out overnight and we are back under full main and yankee 2. We are still off the wind but sea state not allowing a spinnaker. There is some chafing of the active yankee sheet , so we raise the staysail then drop the Yankee and re hoist it with a new sheet . The wind has come round to higher angle so we leave the staysail up. We make good speed under white sails occasionally hitting 17 knots. By the end of our watch we are on the wind and it has dropped to 13 knots .Just waiting for what is to come.
Evening watch , at watch change we swap yankee 3 for yankee 2 In anticipation .We are on the wind on starboard tack and wind gradually builds to over 20 knots. We double reef the main..
eery night ,very dark ,cloudy and no stars
the wind continues to build overnight sleeping is difficult due the
yacht crashing into waves

Woke to find us travelling under a triple reefed main and staysail and 45 to 50 knots wind speed with the wind on the nose and some steep seas. The yacht was very well balanced to steer though the waves did knock you off course. I was surprised how comfortable it was on deck in the conditions though not so down below. During the morning the wind lightened and shifted and we tacked onto port and then later shook out one reef and hoisted the yankee 3. We were soon beam reaching in 20 to 25 knots.Soon after going down I was back up on support to assist put the 3rd reef back in .
Being the medical assistant ;during support watch I was busy treating injuries that had occurred down below due to falls on steeply heeled floor. Seems the cabin is often a dangerous place. Our evening shift, which is now all in darkness , we were beam to close reaching again now heading due east toward Cape Town. The stars finally came out during our shift and for a time the belt of Orion (‘ the pot ‘ in Aussie) became a guiding light.
Next morning we are still close reaching due East this time toward the morning sun . On the helm the yacht feels relatively overpowered with 2 reefs in the main . The sky has broken blue in between some grey clouds and there were some squalls approaching . The first of these is relatively manageable. Soon after I hand over the helm we are asked to follow a course slightly deeper . Wind is increasing and I end up taking back the helm and it is a lot heavier . I hand the helm on and start getting the crew to adjust some sails .Unfortunately a crew member incorrectly eases the yankee sheet let’s go and some overriding turns are created . The noise on deck is enough for 1st mate Jorge to appear and we sort it out. He takes the helm and is on it for the next squall and we put the 3rd reef back in. The yacht is much more controllable after the reef. Gusts still coming through at 30 to 35 knots.
Seems our competition didn’t get hit so head on as we expected and 4 of them are a fair way further east. The wind is expected to go a bit further behind so we will soon be experiencing downwind conditions again.

Black Night and an injury.

Evening brought a wind change and the end to our pleasant spinnaker sailing. Watch change saw spinnaker dropped and yankee 2 and staysail hoisted all while a spinnaker was being repaired and packed downstairs. Rather a busy start to a watch. We were soon reaching in 18 + knots of breeze and distinctly different to the previous night the sky was pitch black .Steering was by instruments and compass alone. Something eery about helming while staring into the blackness and the white water streaming past along the leeward side of the hull , especially for those who had not done so before.
Morning woke to 2 reefs In the main and an increasing breeze. Easy to steer at first but gradually getting more difficult as we powered up the main looking for more speed to stay ahead of Punta A couple of miles behind us. We certainly got more speed but at the expense of quite a few round ups.
With the close reaching life down below has got a little less comfortable with the boat on a constant heel.
And another black night. Helming in these conditions is like some weird video game. You can’t see anything in front of you so it’s at the instruments and try and keep on course. I look up in hope of finding a star but none appears .All the while the surface you’re standing on js pitching and rolling underneath your feet.

31 October

Took over helm at 0800 just after previous watch had had a long round up in a squall gusting to 46 knots. Double reefed main yankee 2and staysail , and yacht seemed to be behaving nicely in the 30 to 35 knots across the waves and wind. Soon caught by a wave and 45 knot squall and yacht rounds up and rudder stalls and despite fully easing the main we stay on our side for along time. Eventually the yacht bears away. Jorge appears saying we are going to reef. I look down at the instruments and the wind is persistently above 40 knots. I go to the mast with Will for the reef. I’m starting to find ‘lying’ on the mast 5ft above the deck on a heeling yacht not that uncomfortable,but the conditions are a bit wild. We are going for reef 3 there already being 2 reefs in. It takes a bit to get the sail down as the main just wants to re inflate and go back up the mast. When we get the cringle of reef 3 unfortunately Will had not yet released it from reef 2 as he lost the spike. We release the handy billy cleat and every time we go to connect it the sail flings it away from our hands. In the end we put a sail tie through the eye in the main and use that to get it on.The yacht is much more stable following the reef. We still have a couple of round ups.During one I am easing the main while Ming is on the helm, a wave hits and I am thrown across the deck into the starboard traveller winch.Must have hit my right leg on something also. Seems there is no major damage. Towards the end of the watch we put in a gybe. Clearly this carries a high risk of a further round up but Seumas and Jorge conduct it well. On the new tack the course is straight down the waves. The new watch are surfing down waves sometimes at speeds over 20 knots.
At night we take over and there is still a large sea but wind has dropped to 25 to 30 but still with gusts to 35. The boat behaves nicely and for some of the time we have stars to dteer by. The course is now more across the waves and at times we hit 17 knots but not in the 20s like earlier in the day.The skies are again very dark toward the end of our watch . Temperatures have been cool but not uncomfortable.

Starry starry night

Woke up to more pleasant downwind sailing.Code 2 spinnaker up but the wind gradually dropping.3 yachts visible behind, Korea,Punta,and Seattle. Code 2 comes down and code 1 in the light conditions.At one stage the wind drops out to 3 knots and is very difficuit to keep the kite drawing. We mange to at times gain ground and at other times we are being caught.By time of the following watch we are the most windward boat ,a distinct advantage given the tight course of 90 to 100 wind angle.

Evening watch another downwind affair. Initially a high wind angle to start with wind gradually coming more behind. Variable breeze of 6 to 9 knots. And when the stars finally came out there was no cloud cover and stars visible all with the Southern Cross of our starboard rear quarter. Korea visible the whole time on our Starboard side and after dark their port light visible. Seems the two of us going for the scoring gate.