White Ocean Racing

May 20 - Steve's blog Number 9.

Now we're moving!

Now this is more like it - it's even more difficult to type today than yesterday. We are reaching along at 14 to 16 knots in 20 to 25 knots of wind as a weather front comes through. There is the occasional lull for two minutes whilst we go between clouds, and it won't be long before we're through the front completely, I can see light on the horizon. The boat slams straight into yesterdays waves which are coming straight at us, so the boat slams with deafening crashes and water comes hurtling down the deck. My washing up is in the cockpit as it is very close to a giant dishwasher up there, it just does itself with no input from me. Cooking porridge this morning I had to hold the pan down with the spoon rather than stirring with it because it was so bouncy! This is the sort of sailing I love.

OK, back now, I had to go on deck. As quick as that, the front has gone through, just the last bits of rain to pass over us, and once again, we are hard on the wind which is again blowing straight from the ice gate at about 16 knots! Typical!

These boats are very flat on the bottom and wide like a tea tray with a pointy front. In fact if you forget about the keel, the actual hull of this boat will float in only nine inches of water - with the keel you need 4.5 metres! This makes them great boats to sail across or down the waves because theyre really surf boards, but they slam like mad as you pound into the waves as you go upwind. If it really windy and you are going upwind, they slam so hard I swear that if you lie down you can feel your brain wobbling about in your head - "Don't lie down then" I hear you say - that may of course be the answer, that or just don't go upwind!

Yesterday we passed very close to Milne Bank, which is a way from the Grand Banks. It is a little underwater mountain the peak of which is only 102 metres from the surface; still quite deep you say, but around it the water is three to four thousand metres deep. It has an effect on the North Atlantic Current which is forced to go around the outside, and probably lots of fish and other creatures call it home as the swirling current brings them food.

I have to go now and shake another reef out now we know that the front doesn't have a sting in it's tail, sometimes you think they are through and you get another one straight afterwards which blows even harder that the first!! Now Unai has retired I am at the back, so I really have to pull my finger out and get a move on!

Vincent Riou abandons the race.

Vincent Riou (PRB) reported hitting a large sea mammal at 03:00 UTC on this morning, but his initial assessment was that the damage remained superficial... The skipper realized during the afternoon that one of his keel pins was missing, and that the appendage was only held by the ram used to cant it. With an approaching storm, RIOU decided to abandon ship and requested assistance. Loick PEYRON (FRA) onboard Gitana Eighty was directed towards PRB by the Race Direction team, and took RIOU aboard at 17:25 UTC. Spirit of Weymouth is now 9th out of 9 boats.

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