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Day 190

By Brian Hancock

Good morning friends and neighbors. It’s Monday and time for your lessons. The frivolity of St Patrick’s Day is behind us and now the real work starts. In these updates we have talked about the trade winds which to many following along must seem like some mythical breeze set free by the wind gods many years ago, but for centuries they have existed and have provided a superhighway for the clipper ships of old to get from European and African ports and then make their way to the Americas. Likewise, the trade winds also drive sailing vessels from the Americas toward Asia. Even now, commercial ships use “the trades” and the currents the winds produce to help speed up their ocean crossing. It’s been a valuable tool but it seems these days as if the wind god in charge of trade winds is messing with us. It’s as if he/she stuck a finger in and stirred things up to look like scrambled eggs.

That’s why this leg is so interesting. At times those boats to the west are getting the good stuff and making up ground, only to be foiled by a trough of light air while those boats to the east are stretching their legs and making tracks. It’s still a horse race. I’m not going to comment too much on the front runners except to say that Ms Tabarly on Pen Duick VI is legging it out, as is L’Esprit d’équipe. They have hit a fast lane and have opened up a 72 mile lead over Spirit of Helsinki who have found themselves in a bit of a donga, as we say in South Africa. A ditch if you will and it’s a ditch full of no breeze. There must have been a deep desire to find that hidden bottle of vodka overnight as they probably knew that the leaders were sailing away from them. Maiden and Pen Duick VI are dead even on a Distance to Finish (DTF) basis with Translated 9 close on their heels.

Sterna is having a bumper ride of it covering 117 nautical miles in the last 24 hours but they had better be watching their barometer. It’s going to rise and the wind is going to drop and in doing so, drop them into a fairly large windless hole. White Shadow and Triana are just coming out the other side and are still trying to find their stride. Both boats are averaging a witches nipple over 3 knots but should soon be in better breeze. Galiana WithSecure are doing only marginally better but it’s enough to be leading the Adventure Class. The outlaws on Outlaw are second in Adventure Class and cranking along at a fairly healthy 7 knots. That’s enough boat speed to get some headway on Leg 2.

Ok students, you can put your pencils down and books away. Tomorrow we will learn about the horse latitudes and if you are a horse lover (like me) I suggest you skip the update. Sail safe fellow nautical pioneers. I will have a story for you tomorrow; one that I never saw coming.

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