LAT 32 29.9N
LONG 136 41.4E
ETA 04 APR 12
WEATHER WIND 059@30kts SEA Rough 3m, Swell NE 3m, Cloud O/C CL Baro 1008 (just started rising)
Gold Coast Australia has sailed very well over the past 24 hours and has experienced a myriad of conditions from flat sea’s with full main an Y1 to high seas, three reefs and storm staysail. At the time of writing I have just returned below from fixing our third reef as GCA crashes through high seas in winds of excess of 30 kts.. it certainly is wild up there and the boat is jumping about like a show ride.
It is certainly a case of a baptism of fire for the new crew onboard as we now battle our way towards the low pressure system off the South East of Japan. Tactics of how to get on to the next stage of the race and what side of the low pressure system to take are still undecided and with the present conditions that we are experiencing will probably determine this outcome.
I have probably had two hours of sleep in the last 24 hours, and very minimal rest as I am constantly being called on deck to look at clouds and assess the weather, and to conduct sail changes and reefs. Dispite the lack of sleep, I love these conditions, they are exciting and fun and require a high level of determination to endure them well. For me, these conditions are what ocean racing is all about, though Im not sure if my crew feel the same.
Early this morning while putting in our 2nd reef our 1st reefing pennant broke, resulting in some quick problem solving to get the sail roughly laid on the boom to prevent sail damage when the reef was put in. A blessing in disguise happened a couple of hours after when we found our selves practically becalmed in between two frontal systems. This gave me the opportunity to get up on the boom and lace a new reefing pennant as well as do some quick repairs on the mainsail where the leach chord had become detached.
We now have three reefs in, Y3 and a storm staysail and the pressure which levelled out at 1007.7 has now risen to 1008.0 and steadied. Hopefully the pressure will continue to rise throughout the afternoon and the wind will back signalling that we have passed the centre of the low pressure system.
Being on port tack for any length of time is bringing with it some discomforts (apart from the 3m steep seas, increasing swell and windy shifty conditions). As our battery charger literally went up in smoke a few days ago we can only charge our main batteries while upright or on starboard tack. As a result GCA is on power restrictions, lights and communication systems are switched off leaving only the necessity nav systems running to preserve power. Hence a drop in emails from GCA until we can tack.
Overall everybody is handling the conditions well with only a few people being suffering by sea sickness. Slowly everybody is learning (or relearning) the best ways to weather a storm and get sail changes and reefs done in the quickest time possible, saving us time on the racecourse so we can get to San-Francisco on the podium.