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  • A Call to AntarcticaOn March 10, 2009 at 13:43:19 French time, Skipper Rich Wilson and Great American III crossed the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne. Race time: 121 days, 41 minutes and 19 seconds
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Day 115 - Things are looking up

  • Mar
    04

    1151 UTC, 46/37N  32/31W, 11.3kts, 115T, staysail, 3 reefs in main, wind 25 knots west. When we rounded the high and then gybed north, we ended up due north of the center of the high (where we are now), which then started to move east at nearly exactly our speed. To the east of us the wind is northwest, so 100 miles ahead of our position we would be on port gybe. Or if we were 100 miles behind where we are, the wind is southwest, putting us on starboard gybe. In both circumstances we would be heading straight for Les Sables d'Olonne. But where we are the wind is exactly west. So since we cannot sail directly downwind, but only 35 degrees on one side or the other, we are heading basically either northeast, or southeast. Perhaps we should slow, get the southwest, and just ride it toward Les Sables. Anyway, we are not on the perfect reach that I was hoping for, but the wind is behind us, and for that we are truly grateful.

    In this scenario, last night we sailed with solent and two reefs in the mainsail, and we were going fast, averaging 12.5 knots, in the middle of the night. It seemed as if things were getting a bit more windy and active, so I went to the 3rd reef. Just when I was putting in the reef, it got really windy, so when I finished the reef I rolled up the solent and rolled out the staysail.

    I didn't understand the full weather situation, so when it got even more active, i.e., the boat taking off on 18 knot surfs, I rolled the staysail back up and just sailed with the 3rd reef in the main alone (no headsail), and fired up the computer to look at the weather. What had happened was immediately apparent. We were making such good time that we had sailed across the top of the curved isobars, had caught up with the north westerly winds, and were getting a wind shift which would made the boat go faster from its deep broad reaching. Once we slowed a bit, in a few hours, we settled back into the top part of the high.

    I, however, was so tired that I just fell hard asleep at the chart table, and every time i woke up, I thought about rolling out the staysail, but found some reason that it would be better to wait: for daylight, for another weather forecast, for the seas to go down, for the wind to go down, any reason at all. Finally we did roll out the staysail, then we got lifted a bit, which suggested the whole system was moving. So we gybed to get closer to our course, and to get hopefully headed down to the course.