By Brian Hancock
OK, White Shadow is juggling chainsaws. For now things are OK, but there is some weird weather ahead; for all of the boats in the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race. In a few days they should all be in a decent amount of wind coming up the chuff, as they say in the classics. I have always loved a decent breeze up my chuff, if anyone is interested in that little fact.
Let’s talk about the rhumb line. No, not you bunch of Friday lunch boozers, we are talking about rhumb, not rum. We need to make a distinction, not about rhumb and rum, but rhumb line and the great circle course. OK settle down kids, there will be rum and sandwiches served after this lesson.
Because the world is round (we know this don’t we, even though here in the US they have a huge annual huge convention of the Flat Earth Society – bless them). Because the world is round the shortest route from Point A to Point B is not in a straight line. The quickest (and bumpiest) way from Cape Town to New Zealand takes them right across Antarctica. True story. You might be able to stop in at the McMurdo Station at the South Pole and bum some penguin sandwiches.
However, in order to keep the fleet safe there are some waypoints to keep them out of the really bad stuff. By the way these waypoints look like the Christmas lights that I just strung in the front of my house, but only better. I may (or may not) have had a rum or two before stringing them. That’s a rhumb line and that’s how DTF (distance to finish) is calculated on the Yellow Brick (road) Tracker. But to me, seriously, Madame Tabarly has lost the plot when it comes to the rhumb line.
I am not sure if it’s the red wine (it’s a joke, please don’t get on my case…) or something else, but they are wandering around and have given up the top spot to Translated 9 who are rocking it in a fairly decent south westerly breeze while Pen Duick VI are wobbling a little. They have dropped back to second in IRC, Line Honours and in the Flyer Class. My FB friend Stella thinks that someone might have sat on Marie’s sextant and bent it. She may have a point, but I can’t say that out loud.
Someone asked about Explorer and Sterna. Well they are also muddling along trying to figure which way is up (again, sorry for the continued reference but that was exactly what my first girlfriend said to me). It’s a dodgy bit of a weather pattern ahead. They will be getting some fairly decent breeze (see I didn’t say stiff – I am so proud of myself). They will be getting a decent southwesterly wind that should make life fun onboard. It’s all about small bites and there you go. You signed up for it. Enjoy the small bites.
So anyway, back to my trip across Australia, the misfit musicians in the old Bedford truck only packed 25 cases of beer and some ice. No food, not even chips. They told me to help myself to the beer and so we set off into the depth of the Nullabor (did I mention how far it is from Fremantle to Sydney?). Now it was bloody hot and the Bedford didn’t have that newfangled thing called air conditioning. But it did have a roo-bar. If you plan to drive across Australia (as opposed to sailing under it – another girlfriend reference). If you plan to drive across Australia you need a roo-bar. It’s a pointy-ended thing bolted to the front of your car there to deflect kangaroos. It didn’t take me long to figure things out. We were just ten or so miles into the trip when Skippy came skipping along. True story. Skippy was looking at us directly in the eye when he decided that the shortest way to his destination was across the road; directly in front of us. Well Bam. Skippy was a big one, but not big enough for the roo-bar and there you go. We left Skippy for the night predators and the vultures. I felt bad, but the driver of the Bedford said, “don’t worry mate, there will be more. Have another beer.”
But I digress. While Pen Duick VI is on a sightseeing tour of South Australia, Maiden and Spirit of Helsinki are cooking along in fairly light winds. Triana with skipper Jean d’Arthuys is leading the Adventure Class. Why are these French names to difficult (by the way, as a huge aside, and I mean huge aside, Arkansas executed a certain Mr Hancock yesterday – no relative, but still it stings when your name comes up on the evening news and they mention the death penalty).
The weather looks good for the next few days. The Monster Mash is still going to eat someone’s lunch over the weekend, but that’s life, living in the fast lane.