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Day 183

By Brian Hancock

Most of the Ocean Globe Race fleet are riding some pixie dust north. There is a steady southerly wind fed by who knows what. Usually the South Atlantic is dominated by one big high pressure system; on the east side of it you are going to get steady southerlies and on the west side you are going to get steady northerlies, but looking at Windy on the Yellow Brick tracker there is nothing steady about anything. It looks like high pressure got into a tiff for custody of the kids and the kids all ran away from home. There are small cells of high pressure scattered all over the place and right where the bulk of the fleet are sailing the wind should be blowing from the north, but there you go. It’s blowing from the south.

In the old days there used to be Pilot Charts that would predict the average wind speed and direction for any part of the ocean. The data was accumulated over decades and compiled to make it easier for the clipper ships of old to plot their fastest course between point A and point B (yes I know that I am being vague) but my point remains the same… ☺️ The oceans were quite (not always) predictable. I knew that things were changing back in ‘86 when I raced across the Southern Ocean on Drum. Remember back then, as is the way with the boats competing in the OGR, there was no live up to date weather information so the pilot charts were pretty much all we could count on. We were sailing between Cape Town and Auckland and the prediction was for steady westerlies; we got steady easterlies which made for some horrendous sailing. My brother was on board for that leg and when we got to New Zealand he got off the boat and never left Auckland. He still lives there almost 40 years later, but I digress.

Out on the OGR racecourse the maidens on Maiden have regained the lead on a distance to finish (DTF) basis after losing it briefly to the Finns on Spirit of Helsinki. Maiden has 5,273 miles to go while SOH has 5,280. Just seven miles separate them even though they are taking quite different lanes up the South Atlantic. Triana is not far off the pace with 5,322 miles to go. They are leading the Adventure Class and first in IRC. Triana is a Swan 53 led by Jean d’Arthuys, a French entrepreneur that made his money from television and vineyards. Two of my favourite things.

Again, I am still mystified why Marie Tabarly on Pen Duick VI chose to take her boat so far east. In the beginning so did Spirit of Helsinki and Translated 9. SOH were the first tack to the north and now they are just ‘metaphorical’ inches from being in first place. Translated 9 were the second to bail but they have been caught by small trough of light winds and are struggling to find their former pace, but Pen Duick VI are still dealing with some very variable conditions. There is, however, a long runway ahead of the boats and anything can happen. For now sailors in the great OGR, enjoy the pixie dust sailing and be safe.

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