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Day 177

By Brian Hancock

Leg 4 start in Punta del Este was both spectacular and dramatic. Let me first say this. The marina where the boats have been docked for the last few weeks is fairly well protected from the elements, the elements of course being the wind, tides and waves, but once you get out into deep water it can be a different situation altogether as the fleet found out quite quickly.

There were some buoys to honour to keep them away from ‘land danger’ (made up words) and so it was a slog to get going. There was 20 knots or so of wind which on a good day at the office is just a breeze, but there was also a foul tide and when there is wind against tide it’s like a witches brew. The waves get sharp and steep (like my first grade teacher) and the going gets a bit rough, as in up-chuck kind of weather if you know what I mean. Feeding the fishes.

Pen Duick suffered a man-overboard situation but they were able to retrieve the person and they carried on just fine as if nothing had happened. Some other boats were caught out by tide and sea conditions and Explorer hit a navigation buoy. I don’t take this lightly because hitting a navigation buoy is never good news. Then to add to the fun Evrika got pinned onto another one, with Triana narrowly avoiding hitting Evrika during the incident. Luckily all was OK, just some scraping, and they rounded the last mark that would set them free; free to find a path to England.

The fleet has diverged. Marie Tabarly and her crew on board Pen Duick VI are heading east. So is Spirit of Helsinki and Translated 9. They are looking to dig deep into that decent southwesterly wind and hop a quick train north. Meanwhile the explorers on Explorer have opted for the inside option and are hugging the coast. They are in much lighter winds but still making progress and enjoying champagne sailing. They wouldn’t be explorers if they didn’t explore different options. The rest of the pack are taking the middle ground with Maiden leading that lot but not by much. Galiana WithSecure is right there with them as are the outlaws on Outlaw.

Things are going to change, however, and a steady northerly wind is going to make itself known. The speedos and bikinis will need to be stowed and at least a foul weather jacket pulled on as a high pressure system feeds them a northeasterly breeze. Back to the fun and games of a bow slamming into a head sea and some splashing over the foredeck. It’s all part of the fun of it.

Even though these are seasoned sailors, there is always an adjustment from life on land to life back at sea. So far they have had a relatively easy go of it, but there is a long way to on the final leg of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race.

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