A mixture of emotions today in the fleet after the sad decision taken by Tanguy de Lamotte to head back to Les Sables d’Olonne yesterday. There is the pleasure of sailing under a big moon on calm seas, the exhaustion after so much hard work and the frustration of trying to get out of the Doldrums.
Didac Costa (One Planet One Ocean): “The moon was awesome yesterday. It was magical to surf the waves with its company. In the morning I changed from the A5 to the FR0, as the wind began to drop and shift to the bow. I remember that during the Barcelona World Race with Aleix, it took us about 25 minutes to do this manoeuvre. Sailing solo, this same manoeuvre takes me not less than an hour. These are the steps to follow: take out the sail, spread it on deck, prepare it, furl the other one that is up, drop it, change the outhaul, halyard and downhaul, “travelling” to the mast and piano, hoist the new sail, change the check stay for the topmast backstay, unfurl the sail, trim, keep the other sail, etc. Today I finished the manoeuvre in shorts and without a t-shirt. You have to think carefully before taking the decision...”
Pieter Heerema (NED) No Way Back: “I am very good. It has been a fantastic few days. Last night was magical, absolutely magical. The full moon out with a little bit of a hazy sky, flat seas and no waves at all and a very nice wind. The boat went like a bat out of hell. It was so smooth it was incredible, absolutely fantastic. I have not seen many nights like that before. The boat is doing well. The boat likes to stretch its legs. My back is getting better slowly, but it is still there. A couple of days ago I had to pull something hard directly. It is a lot better. There are some little rain squalls coming over, it is a little early but it is characteristics of what I expect in the Doldrums. There is a very big wind shift suddenly. I have sailed through the Doldrums before, not racing. I don’t like it there. It is not nice. They take a long time and you can know whatever but it is still a casino. You can say what you like but it’s a casino.”
Nandor Fa (HUN) Spirit of Hungary: “I don’t even know what day it is. I am well into the Doldrums at the moment, or very close to it. I had a huge shower with 30kts of wind and I was flying. And after that I stopped for a couple of hours. It was raining, raining, raining. Now we are getting some more clouds. I feel OK. It is happening what I expected. The last couple of days I have been enjoying some good progress under the A2 gennaker. I made some westing and some good speed but now this morning this huge cloud and stopped. But I guess in maybe one or one and a half days I will be through and will pick up the SE’ly trades. It is strange because the feature is different to what I recall before, there are no separated clouds, it is cloudy all over. It is not a shower, squally doldrums like I used to remember. The boat is wet, everything is wet and I am wet.”
© Rich Wilson/ Great American IVRich Wilson (USA) Great American IV: “We are entering the Doldrums now and there are black clouds around and so we have put in a reef and rolled out the Solent just in the nick of time. This will be my 12th time across under sail. It is always different and it certainly can be nasty and windy with squalls from different directions. I am just looking at the GRIB files and it is looking like it should be fairly straightforward through, but you wonder if it is just King Neptune trying to lure you in. I remember when I studied with Jean Yves Bernot and he just said ‘go straight across, fast as you can, straight’. Alex got through well and the bunch of boats behind got stuck. Jean Yves also said try to put yourself into a position to get lucky. That is what Alex did.”