Paul Cayard's Whitbread Log
Leg 6: São Sebastião to Ft. Lauderdale
Day 6 - March 19, 1998
Wham! 25 knots with a 30 degree-header and we're off at 18 knots way low of course but fast. Now, the usual debate regarding how long do we ride it and what do we change to if it holds or gets worse.
06° 23'S, 034° 36'W
Miles to Ft. Lauderdale: 3,307
Place: 3th; distance behind 1st-place boat: 16.6 miles
From: Mark Rudiger, Navigator, EF Language
Minefield "Two Bravo" successfully cleared and
dropping fast astern. Preparing for "Three Alpha" probably due in this
evening as we approach the 200-mile rounding mark over the top of South
America approaching the Doldrums.
I finally got a decent sleep early this morning as we went more than a few
hours without constant sail changes and radar watch to figure out what the
next squall combination was going to do. Last night was a classic scenario
of the last few days. I had just come up on deck to relieve Paul and see
what the sky and surrounding waters looked like: We're broad reaching along
with masthead reaching spinnaker, Stevie 'Wonder' [Erickson] is driving, Marco [Constant] is trimming, Josh [Belsky] is grinding, Juggy [Justin Clougher] is cleaning up from the last sail change, and I'm staring in on the radar on deck, taking bearings on squalls. Merit and EF Education are about 4 miles astern and I'm trying to find Chessie [John Kostecki, skipper] off our starboard bow.
On his way below, Paul suggests if we get headed anymore we change to the
big reaching jib and then to our new masthead reacher we've code named
"Axel" after a buddy's rather large albino great dane.
We see a particularly long large "beast" sagging our way and bearings
indicate it will cross our path. As always, a full on debate starts up
whether we should start running off to "ride" it or hold course and punch
through it. The decision is made for us.
Wham! 25 knots with a 30 degree-header and we're off at 18 knots way low of
course but fast. Now, the usual debate regarding how long do we ride it and
what do we change to if it holds or gets worse.
It takes all the guys and
some time to do a sail change on one of these things, so you want to make
the right call. I'm usually trying to work things out for an average time
period and hold a course while the guys want to go FAST NOW. Finally we
decide to change to the R-1 reacher.
Juggy drags it forward and plugs it in while Marco sorts out the sheets. Curt [Oetking] gets the take-down line for the spinnaker set up and Josh is working the pit. We do a nice change and I notice after stuffing the kite below we're already getting lifted from the
squall. Stevie yells for Josh to "drop a bottle," meaning empty about 700
liters of water ballast from the forward tank. A big gust hits and we have
to bear off.
"Hold the water!" Another light spot and lifted.
Basically, this is a good, versatile rig for 45 minutes, but then we're light
and lifted, and decide to try "Axel." We jump Juggy up the mast into the
darkness to "strop off" the sail at the masthead to unload the halyard
Kimo's [Worthington] watch is coming up on deck now and, as always, the
new guys up have all kinds of new info to add to the equation. In this case,
Kimo notices another large line developing to weather and ahead. "Is it
smart to put up big 'Axel' nowww?
As the first big puff hits and we have to
bear off and tank up we all know the answer . . . Juggy DOWN! As Juggy hits the deck, he grumbles something about what happened to our plan to use the
averages and he really didn't need to go on a sightseeing tour for nothing.
Sometimes you just can't help it. You make the best decisions you can.
This time, Kimo was right, as we were already on the edge for the next hour and
would have been a minor fiasco with "Axel." We do get it up the next hour,
however, and after a lot of tweaking and shifting ballast and headings, we
find a sweet spot for this new sail and note some good numbers.
You never know for sure when the sked is going to be your friend, but this
time it is good. We have moved up to third, just passing Chessie before sked
time and solid gains across the board.
For us, this helps justify the sweat
and blood (I banged my ankle on the primary [winch] and left a little trail around
the cockpit), and keeps us pushing harder to mow down Kvaerner and Silk. So,
next round near the corner of Brazil and into the Doldrums will most likely
mix things up again, but for now it's a drag race to that point. Crusty's [Mark Christensen] up there now giving it all he has as I watch Chessie slowly falling back.
John Kostecki's Race Report
Skipper John Kostecki (AmericaOne tactician) has sent his first report from Chessie Racing, which you can read here.
Be sure to check back for more of the first-hand reports from EF Language and Chessie Racing.