Well that was an interesting couple of days to start off the race. The wind speeds weren't crazy or anything but enough to make life on the boat very uncomfortable. Combined with the need to keep a sharp eye out for the heavy boat traffic, it made for an exhausting couple of days. But all that's behind me, and as the waves subsided last night, I got in a series of four 1.5 hour naps that turned me into a new man. To buck my spirits even more, the latest grib is showing the two soft spots ahead of me taking a slightly more northerly track which puts me in a good position to pass to their south then ride the big breeze that's forecasted to hit my track on Sunday. Expedition is routing me right thru them so I'll weigh that option as well.
The boat's performance relative to others with similar ratings is looking good. As this is the first IRC race Jeroboam has ever entered, I was a little concerned about the rating and how Jeroboam would fair under this handicap methodology, especially after hearing some anecdotes about how Beneteaus, for whatever reason, get slammed under IRC. So far, at least in the moderate to heavy conditions we've seen, the boat's doing well. British Beagle, Sunrise and Tamarind are all right around the same handicap and as long as I don't try to pinch up too much, I appear to be making some tracks on them. Position wise, we're all in about the same boat except Tamarind who sacrificed some speed for a much more northerly track. It'll be interesting to see how that gamble pays off in the approaching soft spots and beyond. I assume he'll try to go north of them.
Up in the fast class, Pathways to Children continues to kick butt. I got to know Richard in Plymouth and found him to be an even keeled, tough customer so I suspect he will continue to do very well out here. He's the kind of guy who would treat a long distance race like this no different from a local overnight, that is, he won't hold anything back, ever. I got a tour of his boat and it's in fantastic shape so hopefully he won't experience any major equipment issues and keep the pressure on. Vento is clearly the favorite in this class. He had to turn around to honor ESL and still managed to blast out into first place handily. Andrea is a great guy who supplied me with a bunch of mineral water from his home turf of Sardegna for the trip and plans to pay an extended visit to Bermuda following the race. It's too early to tell how Spirit and the Class 40 sec Hayai are doing - seeing some inconsistent performance out of them. And don't count out Harmonii! Keith had a lousy beginning but he's slowly marching is way up the fleet. He's going to have a tough time sailing that boat to its rating but he assured me he'd have clean cloths the whole way across as the boat's washing machine is in good working order.
I'm very happy with Expedition so far. This is my first race with it and I'm loving the position report analysis. It's very helpful in understanding Jeroboam's performance relative to others and, later in the race, analyzing the pros/cons of various tactical decisions.