By Brian Hancock
Let’s start slowly. A Chinese gybe is when all sh*t hits the fan, in a big way, all at the same time, and usually with disastrous effect. How’s that for an opening? For those too hungover or too full of turkey to have read the update from yesterday, I mentioned that I would explain what a Chinese gybe is, and by the way, I don’t know where the name came from but it has been there since I started sailing back when pigs could fly and they all crash landed.
So here is the basic scenario. Someone suggests putting a spinnaker up in too much wind and it seems like a good idea at the time (always does, until it doesn’t). You get the chute up but Jimmy wants to drive, but Jimmy doesn’t know what sailing dead downwind means. For those that don’t know, dead downwind means dead downwind, as in the wind coming directly from behind. Usually a skilled helmsman can pull this off but Jimmy had only read Sailing for Dummies, and forgot that an errant wave can kick you to the left or to the right and when it does, things start to go sideways. The spinnaker starts to oscillate (see I do know some big words), slowly at first and you can correct things by changing course a little. It doesn’t take much to steady the boat, but if you (as in Jimmy) skimmed that chapter of the book on Downwind Sailing you can find yourself in a whole heap of trouble.
The spinnaker will soon get away from you, it’s a big beast after all with a mind of its own and at some point, I guess it’s called the Tipping Point (never liked that book), the spinnaker has you by the nuts and takes over helming duties. When it careens off to leeward (the direction away from where the helmsman should have steered the boat) you are in for a Chinese gybe. The best you can do, if you are on deck (those below can sleep it away until they can’t), is hang onto something that won’t break, keep your head down because the boom is going to come crashing over with a force that’s unimaginable, and slam into the running backstay (if your boat has them) and that’s about when most atheists (I count myself among them) start to pray. You are basically going down. If you are lucky, and if you get this lucky I suggest playing the lottery, the spinnaker won’t shred itself, but if I am to be kind here and not upset anyone, by now half the crew would have sh*t themselves (nautical term). It’s just not that much fun, and there is a whole lot of mess to clean up and Jimmy gets to wash dishes for a week.
But I digress. Back to the YB Tracker. There is trouble ahead for Translated 9. They need to make the 45 degree south waypoint and for now they are pointing away from it mostly due to headwinds. At last check they were only doing 5.2 knots. They are going to have to tack to make the mark which will soon be dead upwind. Not a great option, but remember, the boats only get weather information in an emergency so for now they are going to have to figure it out on their own.
Maiden, on the other hand did some zigging and zagging earlier and seem poised for a perfect rounding (I love alliteration). But anyway and sorry I can’t help myself (and I have not had a bloody mary – yet), but there must be some salami throwing going on onboard Translated 9. They are in a tough position.
Otherwise things are things (I thought that Hemingway first wrote that but then I Googled it and it was me…). Things are things are things, the fleet is safe and experiencing an unusually decent Southern Ocean crossing. Sterna and Explorer have hooked a ride on that pesky low pressure that has been stalking them, and are enjoying a fairly decent Saturday morning. But “Big Storm Coming Soon”, as my mate Jimmy Buffett wrote. There is another badass low pressure system coming along that will definitely make their lives a little miserable. It’s packing a Muhammad Ali size punch with a little bit of Mike Tyson added in to make it extra fun. More on that tomorrow.
Don’s Daily Tracker Update
Sterna and Explorer have been advised to head south and let an intense developing storm with 80-90kt forecast gusts and possible 10-12m seas pass to the north. It is expected to interact with them from early on the 29th but there are many variables too hard to predict. The following weather advice was given to both skippers today… Important. Make for 43-44S by 2000z hrs 29th intense low will pass north. 26th expect 15W 27th 25-30NW then 28th 30-gust 40SW GD LK END.
OGR is closely monitoring the situation.