HEADING: 054 degrees
WINDSPEED: 32 kts
BOATSPEED: 24 kts
DISTANCE TO FINISH: 630 miles
The Northern Atlantic feels a bit like the Southern Ocean on days like these. It’s really windy, it’s really wet, it’s not nearly as cold, but the waves are pretty big too. I went back to jamming my feet in the bunk/hull seam as I slept last night to keep me from sliding off the end into the nav station, a move I haven’t pulled since latitude 58 South. And you’d think after 20-plus days of suffering through this commotion down there we’d be pretty tired of it (don’t get me wrong, most of us wish we could get to France in a more comfortable fashion), there’s still the smallest bit of satisfaction to be gained from walking the fine line of control in what are sure to be some of our last days at sea together as a team.
It sounds ridiculous to suggest, but on some level there’s nothing extraordinary about these conditions or the way the boat and the guys handle them, anymore at least. I remember seeing 28 knots of boat speed for the very first time on Leg 1, and that no longer stands out – 28 is quite average now, as is 30 knots of wind. But what’s not average, what still surprises and impresses me, is the way everyone has the motivation to get up on day 100-and-whatever and push things to the limit, over and over again. Reef in when it’s needed, but as soon as it’s not, shake that puppy out.
And on the topic of being impressed – as I just went to make a round of coffees for the 0600 watch change – is the acceleration of these boats. Usually you hang on to something for fear of deceleration, being thrown forward when the bow hits the next wave at pace. But what nearly just got me was the REacceleration! On my way back to my bunk, the boat sped up and I found myself almost running down the interior. Volvo 70s…sheesh. An era coming to an end.
On to our race. We sailed by Groupama sometime yesterday afternoon, assuming they had a problem because they’re usually fast in strong winds. Now we’re locked in with Telefónica and have them in sight, less than 10 miles away. With only 600 miles left on the race track it’d be really easy to keep the foot down on the gas and say we’ll fix anything that breaks when we get there, but with a forecasted build (and one gybe in the middle of the low), self-preservation will be a factor in determining how this ends. So for now it’s 100%, but at some point today that will likely change. Question is, who blinks first?
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