At the start of the 19th day at sea, Sébastien Simon's mindset is a bit mixed. Although he regrets the damage to his windvane - which is hindering him - and his more cautious strategy, the skipper of ARKEA PAPREC sees the positives in being in a good group and the prospect of diving into the first southern depression which is on the horizon
"I haven't slept much, what with this unstable and erratic wind. It felt it was important to sail at speed. And I had in fact slept well yesterday so that I could spend the night hours trying to go fast. I hope the conditions will stabilise so that I can get some rest.
The fact that I only have the compass mode to drive my autopilot doesn’t give me much time to rest. I have to look at my sails all the time to see if they're at the right angle because when I'm sailing downwind, the bottom(spare) wind vane doesn't give me any information. I'm blind here, and never felt it more strongly than when I made a full 360° last night.
I'm not very comfortable in these light airs, I'd prefer to "sail" the boat and go faster, it's more exciting!
Today is looking like it will be even more complicated, as it should get even softer. I'll have to deal with the high pressure system... But as soon as I’m to the south of it, I’ll reach the southern depression and be able to pick up the pace. The depression will no doubt take us pretty far, perhaps even as far as the Kerguelen Islands. I’ll have to stay alert so as not to miss it, which is really important because if I do, I’ll be hit by a high pressure system which will really slow me down.
I'm a little frustrated: I've been pretty conservative in my strategy: Sam (Davies) and Louis (Burton) have gone ahead. The group to the West will pass in front of me, but I hope to be in front in the East group. And I hope to stay in this group. It offers quite a few challenges, and they’re making good speed. I will have to keep moving the boat ahead as I have already been doing: it is a boat that can go very fast.
The southern ocean? I've looked at the conditions, it doesn’t look like there’s much going on to begin with. We'll see what happens when the front of the depression catches up with us, it will probably be stronger then. I've never sailed in these conditions. Once I’m well within them though, it will be pretty speedy all the way to the Kerguelen Islands. I’ll have to follow this depression for as long as possible... and no doubt be very tired as a result.
I took the opportunity to check the boat, and everything seems to be fine. I don’t have much hope for my weather vanes however: I think it's over for them... I could go back up the mast... but what for? I don't know, the risk is too great, for no real gains. I am annoyed by the damage, which puts me at a disadvantage, but the rest of the boat is fine. I was able to reach the St. Helena high without the weather vane, so I know that I can go fast despite not having it... There will be of course be some difficult moments, but I'll deal with them. Everyone has their own problems: this weather vane is mine.
I’m starting strong on this 19th day at sea, I haven’t really seen the time go by. I miss my loved ones a lot, but there are always things to do which keep me busy. On board, I make sure I take time for myself, to read a book, watch a film, sleep. I make the most of it, as I'll have less opportunities to do so in the next few days!”