t was a long afternoon Sunday as we sailed out the Chesapeake
very near the back of the fleet after a bad start by yours truly.
I know there are still 3,400 miles to go, but when you have the
biggest turn-out of sailing fans ever to see any sailboat race in
history in the USA, and it is live on TV, this is not the time to
be next to last. Still, the fans were unbelievable. It did not
seem to matter to them. They cheered us by name as we sailed by,
the said we were the best and wished us luck.
I was both moved and impressed by this strong support. Maybe it
is because EFL has the most Americans (6) of any crew in the
Whitbread Race, or maybe it was that we are leading the race.
There were so many who wished me and the team well, not just
yesterday but all week. It really made us feel good to be part of
a sport that was graced with such strong enthusiasm in our home
country. It serves to motivate us at AmericaOne, even more, to get our America's Cup back next year.
Back to the scene . . . there must have been 5,000 boats out there. For sure, I could not count them. They were strewn all over the bay for
about the first forty miles of the race. Anyone who saw the
sight had to be in awe. Congratulations, again, to
So, I ate that piece of humble pie, sailing around all afternoon in
the back of the pack, waved to everyone I could see, and pressed
on. Now, it is Monday morning, and after a good night's
work, we are in 3rd place just a few meters out of the lead and
ahead of Swedish Match.
The Chesapeake was very shifty and tricky last night with thunder storms and rain squalls. And, yes, there really is a long way to go to France, so things will shuffle around some more before we start counting points for this leg.
We have been in our full-race watch system all night to give us
maximum human resources to deal with all the sail changes
required. This means we are pretty tired after getting about two
hours sleep each. Today we will shift into the "standard" watch
system, which will get everyone's batteries recharged. Rudi thinks
there will be some wind tomorrow, so we need to be in shape for
The decision to be made right now is whether to go on the great
circle course, which is shorter and at a faster sailing angle, or to
go south of that, on a longer course and slower sailing angle to
get the advantageous Gulf Stream current. If you are asking how
much slower and how much longer a course, you are asking the right
questions. The longer course is answerable 31 miles between the
mouth of the Chesapeake and a way point south of Newfoundland. How
much faster or slower we will sail on a given course as well as
the delta in current is a bit of a mystery. Those calculations
are based on forecasts. So, once again, we need to stay in the same
area as Swedish Match.
The winds don't look particularly strong for the next week, so we
don't expect a record crossing. Tomorrow should give us a bit
of wind from the south or southeast, so we will be reaching fast.
After that, the wind looks lighter as we approach the high-pressure