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Day 187

By Brian Hancock

I may have counted the Finns on Spirit of Helsinki out a little too early what with Pen Duick VI and L’Esprit d’équipe storming up their eastern flank, but they are back in the lead with a fairly decent gap between themselves and Maiden who are in second place on a Distance to Finish (DTF) basis. At last check Maiden has been hanging tough despite their generator and water issues. The storm troopers to the east have slowed and Pen Duick VI are 38 miles off the pace with the French boat L’Esprit d’équipe just 23 miles behind them. It’s a horse race for sure.

A couple of things to note. 20-odd miles in an around-the-world yacht race is nothing. The boats ahead can park up in one of grandma’s nightie’s holes and the boats behind can do an end run around them. The lead can change in a blink.

Secondly, water is heavy. A bucket of water weighs around 8 pounds (around 4 kg) to you more enlightened people using the metric system. That’s why it’s so important to have a working watermaker. You can make as much as you need and not have to carry the extra weight around. Now in Maidens case they have done a great job collecting rainwater and filling their tanks but they are going to have to carry all that extra weight through the windless zone of the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) and it’s most definitely not going to help with boat speed. To illustrate how critical it is to keep weight off the boat, in future races when the Whitbread became known as the Volvo Ocean Race the crew were all instructed to cut their toothbrushes in half and chuck the back end away to save weight. A lot of half toothbrushes over three weeks and it adds up. I think that’s a bit of BS but what it does do is set up a mindset and that’s an important ingredient to winning an around-the-world yacht race.

Let’s not forget some of the smaller boats. They don’t get the attention that they deserve but they are all making good progress toward Cowes. The explorers on Explorer are enjoying a fairly decent northeasterly wind which will give them headwinds for the next few days. Captain Coconut and his crew were doing 5.7 knots at last check. To the west it seems as if the South Africans on Sterna are still fighting the urge to not stop in Brazil for a caipirinha. They are zig zagging it up the coast as if in a constant quandary of ‘should we or shouldn’t we?’ At last check they were doing 5 knots and sailing away from land. I will have to have a bottle of Kishasha and some limes on the dock in England for when they get back to dry land.

White Shadow, Outlaw and Triana are in a fairly large area of light winds, each making around 5 knots. At least they are making progress, albeit a little slow. As they say in the business, progress is progress. Rock on.

Saturday is a day for sports and the teams will have their favorite players beamed in…. errr… sorry I forgot that this was a retro race. No satellite TV. Just a good book and hopefully a fan to keep cool. Ah, that’s the good life. On one leg of an earlier Whitbread that I did I read both War and Peace and The Covenant by James Michener. Time at sea is a time to read. Sail fast and sail safe great sailors of the OGR. Tomorrow I will have a good story for you all.

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