LAT 23 48.9N
LONG 1276 07.2E
ETA 22nd Feb 0600z
WEATHER WIND 035@20-30kts, Sea Rough 2m, Swell NE 3m, Cloud 7/8 Cl, Baro 1020
Its been an interesting 24 hours of rough weather and big seas just as we expected as Gold Coast Australia chases down DLL
who is currently 9nm ahead, though the current sea and wind don’t really dictate racing conditions, it is more sailing to
keep the boat and crew in one piece. The best news for the day is that the conditions are set to worsen as we near the tip of Taiwan tomorrow morning.
It is hard to believe only a few months ago we were sailing down wind with the kite up in 30kts of wind and thinking nothing
of it. Its an entirely different ball game when your sailing to windward, especially when there are big seas and lots and lots of water coming over the deck.
The conditions make the crew nervous (understandably) and consequently things take a lot longer to achieve and don’t always
go to plan. A simple tack seems to be extremely awkward for the crew, some of whom are quite inexperienced, and when things
go wrong they normally go horribly wrong. As a consequence I am a very busy skipper at the moment, getting a hours sleep
here and there to forfill my daily requirements, but spending a lot of time on deck ensuring that we remain safe.
Yesterday evening we passed the “ocean sprint” latitude, however I have completely discarded the possibility of gaining one
extra point for the sprint as pushing the boat and crew any harder in these conditions will not end well. Sometimes it is
better just to back off a few turns and ride the storm until conditions are more appropriate for racing.
Some of the currents in this area are quite frightening, especially in pitch black darkness as I found out last night when
due to our tacking issues ended up sailing between “Lanyu” (Orchard Island) and “Hsaio Hung” Islands. We sailed over some
crazy currents, one of which spun the boat 90 degrees so we were going upwind sideways. Speaking to the skipper of DLL this
afternoon he said he was watching our track on AIS and said we reached some blistering speeds, but not to self don’t sail between islands in darkness in this part of the world!
The battering upwind is taking its toll on the crew who are suffering high fatigue as it is impossible to sleep when the
boat is crashing over (and through) waves every 4 seconds. The only time the crew do get to sleep is through complete
exhaustion. Preparing food also becomes a mission in such conditions, and consequently the meals have become a lot more
simple and less nutritious which also adds to the low energy levels. We are only in day two of the “rough stuff” and it is
still quite warm. It will be interesting to see how everybody is fairing on day 5 when it is freezing cold. Will the crew
have got used to life on a 20 degree angle pounding through waves or will there only be a few of us left standing. It will
take some careful encouragement and motivation to ensure that everybody makes it through.