White Ocean Racing

Reports 21, 22 November

21 November - Race Status.

Although having returned to Les Sables d’Olonne for quick storm repairs, Foncia (Michel Desjoyeaux) caught up with Steve and overtook him on the 21st. Then on the 22nd Steve was overtaken by Pakea Bizkaia (Unai Basurko), positioning him as 19th out of 26.

21 November - The job list is getting shorter.

Audio Clip courtesy Trigone/VendeeGlobe

22 November - Blog 7 - Time for a wash.

Now, as of two hours ago, my writers block (not that you could call me a writer!) has been lifted as I have been released from the Doldrums. I thought initially that perhaps I'd escaped punishment, but it was not so. At one point I was trapped under a cloud that filled a 24 mile range radar screen - and boy, did it rain! It was almost Biblical! We just sat in the midst of it with the sails banging and slatting back and forth, which is a sailor's Chinese water torture, with the rain bucketing down.

That was the largest of many clouds, but there were very many equally frustrating ones, sometimes with wind in them, and sometimes only with wind at the edges, and nothing but torrential rain and no wind at all in the centre. There were gusts, but never that big, up to about 20 knots usually, but that's enough when you normally have a couple of reefs in and full ballast tanks by that point, and, you've guessed it, it can blow from any direction. It changes direction so frequently that I often had to look at the wind direction from the instuments and make funny angles with my hands to work out which tack I should be on to get me best to where I wanted to go! At some points I was going backwards faster than I'd been going forwards for the preceeding few hours! It changed so often it can get confusing if you're tired. It has been really frustrating, and I am not keen to come back, but it is another experience to add to the list. I often imagined what it would be like to come through here in a square rigger. You can see how they got stuck here for weeks, sooner them than me.......

I haven't had chance to do any more on the second instuments and pilot, I have been on deck for a lot of the time, and am now short of sleep. The boat is very clean though, lovely and salt free. When it rained for the first time,which was both a blessed relief from the heat and the chance for a shower for me, it was interesting to see all of the red dust washing out of the sails and the boombag. I take it all blew across from Africa, incredible really.

When we were moving, it was great to watch the flying fish. They take off into the wind, get a bit of altitude, and then bear away and go hammering off downwind for hundreds of yards in some cases, just inches above the surface. There have been very few birds however, and usually they are on the windy edges of the clouds because it is easier for them to fly. There have been some gannet like birds with diamond shaped tails that I have not seen before. One stayed around for most of a day,and seemed to be just messsing about, it is testament I suppose to how much there is to eat out here that they have the time to do that. He was like Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, just playing in the wash and updrafts from the sails, going round and round the boat time after time like a child with new game.

Now we are moving again we can settle into catching up with the boats in front, which is going to be a tall order, but If I don't loose any more miles I shall be happy! Brian called up. He was very well and quite chatty, and it was really good to talk to someone else in the race. He said it was lovely a bit further on, and the sailing was easy - I am looking forward to it!

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