By Brian Hancock
Back in the day when many of us still suspected that the world might be flat, I was delivering boats from Pietarsaari in northern Finland (where all those beautiful Swans in the Ocean Globe Race were first christened with cold salt water), to the Caribbean. It was a simple ask; just make it there without scratching the boat. The Baltic Sea and the North Sea were a bit of a challenge, but once clear of the UK shores the mandate was simple; sail south until the butter melts and then take a right. The Caribbean, or West Indies as we called them back then, would be right on your bow. You couldn’t miss them, and we didn’t.
With that as an intro, let me explain. There is no taking a right turn for the fleet competing in the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race. Their butter might have melted, or in the case of Maiden their cheese if they still had any… but the fleet is going to have to slog on south. Many pitfalls lie ahead and there one thing you can be quite certain of, it’s going to get hot.
The stoic Marie Tabarly, skipper of Pen Duick VI, is the first to encounter the Cape Verde Islands. By the way I use the word stoic as a compliment; she is all business and is delivering the goods. Pen Duick VI is navigating the eastern edge of the island chain. The wind is a bit shifty (a bit like my old uncle Keith who thankfully had a heart attack and died). The wind is a bit shifty but the trade winds are going to kick in and they will be well clear of the island group by this time tomorrow. The only real danger is that they might smell the fish on the BBQ and pull over for dinner. I have been to the Cape Verde Islands and their food is spectacular.
Maiden, despite their lack of cheese, or perhaps because of it, are hot on the heels of Translated 9. Last check on the Yellow Brick tracker has them just two miles behind the crack Italian team on a distance-to-go basis.
Meanwhile my Fun-O-Meter friends Godspeed and Sterna are just trucking along, well Sterna that is. Godspeed is tugging at her lines trying to leave Portugal where the hospitality always makes it hard to leave.
I just saw a tweet (or an X if you are with the program) from Translated 9. They said that they had hit a top speed of 19 knots. Now I have had many bright people in audiences ask me, “how can a boat whose waterline length and displacement suggest a max top speed of around 10 knots suddenly go 19 knots?” There is a simple answer; gravity. Have you seen the size of some of the waves out there? Sit at the crest of one and look down and 19 knots might just be in your future.